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Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
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Amsterdam is getting a brand-new waterfront museum

It’s a major €27 million project to ‘tell the whole story’ of the Dutch slave trade

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

Acknowledging the role played by European countries in the slave trade isn’t just important, it’s absolutely necessary, and Amsterdam has just announced plans to build a brand-new waterfront museum to ‘tell the whole story’ of Dutch involvement in slavery. 

It comes just a few months after the 150th effective anniversary of the end of Dutch slavery, when King Willem-Alexander issued a formal apology. By 1814, 600,000 African people and up to one million Asian people had been enslaved by Dutch traders and the Dutch East India Company. 

Junior culture minister Fleur Gräper-van Koolwijk told DutchNews ‘[this will be a place] for recognition, commemoration, healing, admission … not just for the relatives of enslaved people but for everyone.’ 

In December 2022, caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that €200 million would be set aside to raise awareness of Dutch involvement in the slave trade, €27 million of which is going toward this museum, which is set to open in 2030. 

Java Island, which is a narrow peninsula in the Eastern Harbour District of the city, has been chosen for the location. The design of the building will be chosen by a competition for international architects. 

5,000 people have been consulted about their visions for the museum, but there are some things we know it’ll definitely include. There’ll be a knowledge centre which ‘tells multiple perspectives’, a children’s museum and a kitchen so that visitors can cook together and learn about each other’s traditions. 

While it’s still in very early stages, this project sounds like it’ll be a remarkably important addition to Amsterdam’s roster of museums, and is a step in the right direction for acknowledging the country’s colonial history. Stay tuned for updates. 

Did you see that this city has been voted Europe’s best destination in 2024?

Plus: A new rail project will slash journey times between these European cities

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