The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam opened its exhibition “Slavery” this week, marking the first presentation of its kind at the Dutch institution. The show, which runs through August 29, focuses on the stories of 10 individuals who lived between the 17th and 19th centuries, and it takes up the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Suriname, Brazil, and the Caribbean, as well as Dutch colonial slavery in South Africa and Asia.
Featuring objects ranging from musical instruments to tools from plantations, paintings, archival documents, and audio of poems, music, and narrations from people with connections to the 10 historical figures spotlighted, the exhibition also considers life in the Netherlands during the colonial period.
In conjunction with the show, over 70 objects in the Rijksmuseum’s collection will be accompanied by a second label that explicates their relationship to slavery.
Valika Smeulders, head of history at the Rijksmuseum, said in a statement, “By focusing on ten true personal stories, ‘Slavery’ gives an insight into how individuals dealt with legalized injustice.”
Objects on view in the exhibition come from the National Gallery of Denmark, the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the National Archeological Anthropological Memory Management (NAAM) in Curaçao, and other institutions, as well as private collections in Sint Eustatius, Suriname, and the Netherlands.
Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum, added that the exhibition can help “form a more complete picture of our history and a better understanding of today’s society.”
Students are among the first groups that the Rijksmuseum has invited to see the exhibition. Ahead of its reopening on June 8, the institution is presenting a digital edition of the exhibition.