Saturday 01 April 2023

Slavery exhibition to be shown at UN in New York and worldwide

Foot shackles used for chaining enslaved people at night. Photo: Rijksmuseum

A blockbuster exhibition on Slavery from the Rijksmuseum is going to be on show at the head office of the United Nations in New York next year, the Rijksmuseum has announced.

The UN’s entrance hall will display a version of the exhibition – based on 10 stories from the slave trade that fuelled the Dutch ‘golden age’ – from the end of February to the end of March. It will be titled ‘Slavery. Ten True Stories of Dutch Colonial Slavery.’

The Rijksmuseum’s exhibition in 2021 was a major awareness-raising event in a wider reassessment of the ‘shadowy’ sides of Dutch history. Last December, Mark Rutte gave a controversial apology for the Netherlands’ role in slavery and announced a €200 million fund for awareness raising projects; the Dutch king is widely expected to apologise in July, on the 150th anniversary of the effective scrapping of Dutch slavery.

‘It is very important to recognise the impact that slavery has had on world history, and the impact it still has,’ said Taco Dibbits, director general of the Rijksmuseum, in a statement. ‘We are very grateful that the United Nations is raising awareness of this through this exhibition.’

The new display is part of a UN outreach programme, and will feature the original 10 stories, each around a single object from the Rijksmuseum. There will also be a programme of speakers and a showing of Nieuw Licht, a documentary on the making of the exhibition.

According to a press release from the Rijksmuseum, the compact version of its Slavery exhibition will then travel to UN offices and embassies worldwide.

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