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'Important to acknowledge the historical injustice of looted artefacts'

Directors of museums in the Netherlands announced in March 2019 that they would be taking new steps in relation to the return of looted colonial artefacts. So what has happened since?

Evelien Campfens

PhD candidate Evelien Campfens contributed to an article on the topic in Dutch newspaper De Groene Amsterdammer, which considered what steps the museum directors have taken since March last year. Among other things, Campfens claims that acknowledging the historical injustice is an important step. In her opinion, the focus of museums should now be on research and dialogue and it is commendable that the guidelines have taken a clear step in the right direction by placing the topic on the agenda.

However, she remains critical, noting that the guidelines are rather bureaucratic.  'Questions are asked, to which there is no unequivocal answer. In certain claims, for example, the question is asked whether the historical or cultural value of an artefact is greater outside the Netherlands, than if it were to remain here. But who can decide that?'

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