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Acknowledge Rebuild – wunderkammers of Rotterdam's colonial past

In collaboration with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Kunsthal Rotterdam presents 'Acknowledge Rebuild – Wunderkammers of Rotterdam’s Colonial Past'. An exhibition curated by artist and guest curator patricia kaersenhout on the occasion of the Slavery Memorial Year.


Upoming artists

‘Acknowledge Rebuild’ explores the phenomenon of the ‘wunderkammer’ through contemporary eyes. These ‘cabinets of curiosities’ were popular among the wealthiest Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries and were the precursors of today’s museums. In the exhibition, patricia kaersenhout inverts that perspective and presents the dominant, Western culture as a curiosity. She researches why it is so difficult for us to engage in a discussion about the negative aspects of colonialism. Upcoming artists Bouba Dola, Tommy van der Loo, Devika Chotoe, and Ada M. Patterson and anthropologist and writer Gloria Wekker created works for this art installation. They challenge the audience to look at our colonial past and the history of slavery from a new perspective.  

Upoming artists
Tommy van der Loo in the exhibition ‘Acknowledge Rebuild’. Photo: Bas Czerwinski.

Rotterdam in the past, present and future

In a city with a multicultural population, one in eight people who live in Rotterdam has an enslaved ancestor. ‘Acknowledge Rebuild’ shows that racism continues to affect the city’s present and future, so it is essential to talk about this. The exhibition illuminates the emotionally charged colonial background of Rotterdam’s art and heritage collections. The display features more than thirty artworks from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection, supplemented with objects from the collections of other museums in Rotterdam and the City Archives. In collaboration with Verhalenhuis Belvédère, we hear the voices of five Rotterdammers in the exhibition, making visible the impact of the past and the present.   

Read more on the website of the Kunsthal

The colonial past of the museum collection

From Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, curator Alexandra van Dongen was involved in the concept development, composition and design of ‘Acknowledge Rebuild’. She was previously involved in Rotterdam research into the colonial and slavery past and showed her ongoing research projectUnpacking Boijmans’ in the Depot. For those who miss the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, there are many collection pieces on display in Kunsthal Rotterdam: Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Sarah Lucas, Atelier van Lieshout, Bas Jan Aders I’m too sad to tell you and Rob Scholtes still very provocative Utopia are just a selection of what can be seen. 

Photo by: Marco Swart

Image in header: Roy Lichtenstein, Crying Woman, 1963, Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.