• When: from September 27, 2024

The exhibition Shadows on the Atlantic explores the impact of colonial history on people's lives. At sea and on land, then and now. Contemporary art and videos with personal stories offer new perspectives on the museum's collection.

Without ships, no colonialism

In the 17th century, the Atlantic Ocean was the world's highway. Traders, fishermen, soldiers, and colonists from Europe made the crossing by ship, including those from the Netherlands. However, the pursuit of profit had significant consequences for people and nature in the Atlantic region. The exhibition Shadows on the Atlantic delves into the impact of colonial history on human lives, both then and now. 

Museum collection and personal stories

Shadows on the Atlantic features objects from the museum's collection, such as various 17th and 18th-century paintings and a two-meter-long model of the ship D'Keulse Galy. Ships like these were used to abduct enslaved people from West Africa and transport them to the colonies in America.

While this ship model vividly depicts what such a vessel looked like, it doesn't convey the experiences of those on board. Therefore, the museum collection is complemented with videos featuring stories about historical figures and interviews with experts, offering a new perspective on the objects. This gives the objects in our collection a different meaning. Or perhaps even more meaning.

Contemporary art as reflection

For Shadows on the Atlantic, the National Maritime Museum collaborates with various artists. Their works demonstrate how colonial history still resonates today. The exhibition includes photographs by Lisandro Suriel, who explores the shared African identity of the descendants of enslaved people. Artists Atong Atem, Manuwi C Tokai, and Wouter Pocornie are creating new works specifically for Shadows on the Atlantic. 

Shadows on the Atlantic reveals how maritime history is inseparably linked with colonial violence and the legacy of slavery. Through this permanent exhibition, the National Maritime Museum anchors this connection for the years to come. 

With thanks to

The exhibition Shadows on the Atlantic is made possible with the support of the participants of the VriendenLoterij, Mondriaan Fund, Association of Maritime Funds, het Cultuurfonds and Het Compagnie Fonds.

Image in header: ‘Trance Atlantic’ by Lisandro Suriel 


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