A not so golden age: Decolonising the Amsterdam Museum

Roberto Rossi


One of the contemporary uses of postcolonial studies in public spaces is to reconsider the narratives that lead visitors through history and art museums. With the transformation of the democratic citizenships from national elites into multiethnic polyphonies, museums have changed their audience. So, some categories and tropes inherited by nationalist and positivist historiographies became old – and often discriminative for some visitors. Indeed, these representations still reflect the colonial perspective of the ancient hegemonic groups. The expression Gouden Eeuw [Golden Age] – referred to the 17th Century Dutch Republic – may be included in these categories. For this reason, in 2019 the Amsterdam Museum decided to delete the phrase from the labels of its collections. With this paper, I will provide a bibliographical framework about the choice of the Amsterdam Museum, through the quotations of its directors, its conservators, and their theoretical references. Then, I will look at other cases of New Narratives strategies, which the Dutch Museums theorized in the last years with a postcolonial aim. Finally, I will evaluate whether this reference for the expression Gouden Eeuw has colonialist implications.

Parole chiave

New Narratives; postcolonial studies; heritage; Golden Age; tropology

Full Text


DOI: https://doi.org/10.15162/2704-8659/1215


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