Sunday 17 October 2021

Rijksmuseum cuts ‘racist’ language from collection notes

black servant rijksmuseumAmsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is overhauling its collection notes to remove words which could be considered offensive such as ‘negro, eskimo and indian’, the Parool reports on Wednesday.

The museum has begun a project to replace such terminology across the hundreds of thousands of items in its collection. The move has been prompted by growing unease about the use of words dating from colonial times and increased digitalisation of the collection, spokeswoman Eveline Sint Nicholaas told the paper.

‘In days gone by, a black woman was more likely to be described as a negerin or negerinnetje which many people now consider to be offensive,’ she said. ‘It is part of our policy of taking a critical approach to the traditional eurocentric viewpoint.’

In some cases, the change is simple. A photograph by Hendrik Doyer has been renamed ‘Surinamese girl’ and the early 20th century title ‘zwarte negerinnitje’ is listed as the original name so as not to eradicate history, Sint Nicholaas said.

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