Repairing History

Jörgen Tjon A Fong
Programme editor
Anne-Marijn Epker
Programme editor
Joline Vermeulen
In Cooperation with
Institut Français des Pays-Bas
Over the past years, museums from France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have approved the restitution of several objects to their countries of origin. But is this enough to repair history?

In Berlin, the opening of the Humboldt Forum this year, displaying thousands of artefacts 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.

Can restitution repair history, or should further steps be taken? Besides thorough research, pillars of reconciliation also include education, mediation and cooperation. How can European institutions and former countries and communities of origin develop healthy relationships? Has the meaning of colonial-era objects changed after being displayed in Europe for so many years, and if so: how should museums address these colonial narratives while engaging a broad and diverse audience?

These questions will be discussed with several experts from established 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 recent exhibition ‘Slavery’.
  • Pap Ndiaye is 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.

Please note; upon arrival we ask for a vaccination- or test certificate. Read here everything you need to know when visiting De Balie

Five minutes before start, the livestream programme will be shared on this page.


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