On 29th of November 2019, the Afrika Museum will open a new semi-permanent exhibition. This exhibition is part of reframing the museums’ vision on how to represent Africa, its peoples, cultures and histories, in relation to the Netherlands, and Europe more broadly. The intention of this new exhibition is to move beyond the limited and limiting tradition of ethnographic displays in order to develop more complex ways for presenting the history and contemporary realities of the very diverse African continent.
As the museum’s website claims:
“As part of the development of the new exhibition, we are aware of the “impossibility” of such an ambition. Indeed, the museum has had a long, even failed history, of such representational practices, mired in a broader discursive and representational economy that presented Africa through an Eurocentric lens and positioned Africans, their religion and ritual practices as if in need of civilisation – the civilising mission. On this account, Africa and its people were at worst ‘primitive’, ‘backwards’, ‘a place of darkness’, and at its best ‘underdeveloped’ and in need of salvation. Unfortunately, this remains a stubborn imaginary of Africa that still exists today.”