Colonial Collections Consortium

About the Consortium

The consortium supports institutions administering collections in provenance research by sharing knowledge, answering questions and providing stakeholders with a network.

Goals

The Consortium was established in 2022 with the following four objectives:

  • Support the implementation of the Dutch restitution policy by sharing knowledge and expertise about collections obtained in a colonial context.
  • Support collection managers in the Netherlands in the process of provenance research of collections from a colonial context.
  • Support and facilitate provenance research, documentation and (public) accessibility of these collections.
  • To be a central point of contact and information desk for countries of origin for questions about collections from a colonial context and provenance research in the Netherlands.

The Bureau supports the Consortium and is part of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE).

More about the Consortiumpartners

The consortium is a partnership between five organisations with expertise in colonial collections, consisting of:

Museum Bronbeek

Bronbeek is the knowledge centre with regard to the colonial-military past of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Bronbeek is also a home for veterans of the Dutch armed forces and the former Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL). The collection contains objects from the former Dutch colonies: Indonesia, Suriname and Curaçao, obtained in different ways. Voluntary and involuntary or whose provenance history is unclear.

NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

NIOD is a national and international centre of expertise for interdisciplinary research into the history and social impact of world wars, large-scale violence and genocides. In addition, NIOD collects, preserves and provides access to related archives and collections. With the Restitution Expertise Centre and a research group on loss of property and restitution, NIOD contributes to knowledge development about (the provenance history of) colonial collections and their future.

Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE)

The RCE is part of the Dutch Ministry of OCW (Education, Culture and Science) and implements laws, regulations and policy, provides advice and develops practically applicable knowledge for those who manage heritage. This is done in cooperation with the heritage field, the ministries of OCW and Foreign Affairs, and an (inter)national network. The RCE manages part of the national collection and has expertise on colonial collections. When returning objects, the RCE coordinates the physical transfer if required.

Rijksmuseum

The Dutch national Rijksmuseum tells the story of 800 years of Dutch history to the present day. The Rijksmuseum collection, which comprises one million objects, includes art and objects with a relation to former colonised territories, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Suriname and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. The Rijksmuseum is aware of the question of the legitimacy of managing objects acquired in a colonial context. It considers cooperation with partners from the source countries and the consortium a priority.

Wereldmuseum

The Wereldmuseum Amsterdam, together with the Wereldmuseum Leiden and the Wereldmuseum Berg en Dal, is part of the National Museum of World Cultures (NMVW) Foundation. The Wereldmuseum Rotterdam is affiliated to the NMVW as a cooperation partner and shares the same mission in addition to the collection. The Wereldmuseum manages collections whose original owners lost possession involuntarily at the time, objects that were obtained with the permission of the then owner or whose provenance history is (still) unclear. The vast majority of colonial collections come from Indonesia. NMVW also manages collections from Suriname, Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, the Dutch Caribbean and other former Dutch colonial territories, including objects from Sri Lanka.

About the name of this website

Colonial collections.nl / .org

As Colonial Collections Consortium, a partnership between five institutions from the Netherlands, we aim to support collection-managing institutions and communities in provenance research by sharing knowledge, making collections accessible (datahub), and providing stakeholders with a network. This website, and the datahub, allow us to share information about objects that were made and/or acquired in a colonial context. We recognize the historical injustice this period marks and we are committed to rectify it as far as possible. We are aware that the use of the term ‘colonial’ in relation to ‘collections’, and the .nl extension, does not fully fit this narrative.

In conversation with international stakeholders, we decided to: - use both .nl and .org extension. The dot nl refers to the context in which the Consortium currently exists. Dot org was found to be an internationally findable top-level domain. - not use any abbreviations to prevent unwanted references to local or global organizations or brands. - choose a concise and short name that improves findability on the internet and is relatively easy to remember.

We respect all opinions on this subject and are open to conversations.