Repairing History

Jörgen Tjon A Fong
Programme editor
Anne-Marijn Epker
Programme editor
Joline Vermeulen
In Cooperation with
Institut Français des Pays-Bas
Goethe-Institut Niederlande
A year has passed since the publication of the Dutch report on the restitution of colonial heritage. In the meantime, France and Germany and Belgium have approved the restitution of several objects to Benin, Senegal and Congo.

How museums should deal with their colonial heritage is an object of heated debate in Europe and worldwide. In Berlin, the opening of the Humboldt Forum this year, displaying thousands of artifacts from Africa, Asia, and beyond, caused a lot of controversy. In June, Belgian Ministers announced that all illegally obtained objects from Congo will have their legal ownership transferred to the Congolese government.

How should museums deal with our shared colonial past? Should they try to repair history and if so, what steps can they take? What kind of other constructive examples of fair cooperation between museums have we seen in Europe last year?

These questions will be discussed with several experts from high-level museums:

  • Hamady Bocoum is a Senegalese researcher and director of the Musée des civilisations noires in Dakar, which opened its doors in 2019.
  • Nanette Snoep is a Dutch anthropologist and curator. Since January 2019 she is director of the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum – Kulturen der Welt, the ethnological collection in Cologne, Germany. She also taught African Art History and curated international exhibitions, including exhibitions such as „Resist! Die Kunst des Widerstands“ in the Rautenstrauch- Joest-Museum.
  • Valika Smeulers is a Dutch academic and curator. Since 2020 she is the Head of the Department of History at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In this responsibility she curated the exhibition ‘Slavery’ in the museum that is currently on show.
  • Pap Ndiaye a French historian. He is a specialist in the social history of the United States and minorities, and has just been appointed head of the Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration (National Museum of the History of Immigration) in Paris.
  • Marion Ackermann is a German art historian, curator and museum director. She has been General Director of the fifteen Dresden State Art Collections since November 2016. Before this, she also worked as the Director of the Art Collection of North Rhine-Westphalia, and the Stuttgart Art Museum.

This is a Testing for Entry-event. Read here what you have to do for your visit.


Nanette SnoepDirector Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum – Kulturen der Welt, Cologne
Valika SmeuldersHead of Department of History, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Pap NdiayeDirector National Museum of the History of Immigration, Paris. Photo: Anne Volery
Hamady BocoumDirector Musée des civilisations noires, Dakar
Marion AckermannGeneral Director of the Dresden State Art Collections, Dresden