Disturbing news from the museum world. While many museums seem willing to repatriate their African Art that was collected during the colonial period some museums now even think about closing .
Disagreement about the course threatens Africa Museum in Berg-en-Dal near Nijmegen in the Netherlands.
Mission and merger
The Africa Museum was founded in 1954 by the Fathers of the Holy Spirit – a missionary congregation. The fathers are still the owners of the buildings, the grounds and (part of) the collection. But they disagree with the course of the National Museum of World Cultures. The ground floor of the museum reflects the new course, the first floor the old one. The fathers have since canceled their collaboration with the Museum of World Cultures. The NMVW must leave the building on 1 January 2025. As it stands, that means the end for a museum that has been iconic in the region for decades.
The collection of the Africa Museum is rooted in the missionary missions of the fathers to African countries such as Nigeria, Congo, Togo, Benin, Kenya and Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, the Swahili region and Madagascar. There they experienced the local art and culture. The museum was intended to also introduce the Dutch public to this. The collection consists of 8000 pieces. “Everything was bought or received fairly,” says Carel Verdonschot, economic adviser to the fathers. But ‘bought and received’ is difficult to control in a colonial context; this requires in-depth research. In 2020, African activists took another statue from the museum as a protest against looted art.