Monday 23 November 2020

Rijksmuseum to start talks about stolen art with Sri Lanka

Photo: Rijksmuseum.nl

The Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam is starting talks with Sri Lanka and Indonesia about some 1,000 pieces in its collection that may have been stolen and become part of the Dutch ‘colonial heritage’, Trouw reports.

The move comes after last week’s decision by the Dutch National Museum of World Cultures (NMWC) to publish guidelines for countries to claim stolen art or art that is of great cultural significance to a country.

‘It’s a disgrace that the Netherlands is only now turning its attention to the return of the colonial heritage’, Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbets told Trouw. ‘We should have done it earlier and there is no excuse.’

Talks in Sri Lanka will begin in two weeks’ time and will centre around the return of some ten objects.  They include a ruby-encrusted canon which was taken as booty following a military campaign in 1765 and the Banjarmasin diamond which was the property of sultan Panembahan Adam of Banjarmasin (South Borneo) which was colonised by the Dutch in 1856.

The Rijksmuseum has around 4,000 colonial object, not all of which, Dibbits says, were stolen. All objects are owned by the state so museums cannot take the decision to return an object on their own.

The NMWC guidelines have come in for criticism because they don’t include much about the steps museums themselves could take before claims come in.

‘Before there is any negotiating to be done, the Netherlands already sets out its conditions. It’s a typically Dutch approach. How is that going to lead to a satisfactory joint decision?, Trouw quotes historian and stolen colonial art expert Jos van Beurden as saying.

Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl

The DutchNews.nl team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments.

DutchNews.nl has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.