Plantation Director with Enslaved People at the Hospital
1 February 2019

Hidden in Plain Sight. Visualizing Slavery in the Dutch Empire

CLOSED COLLECTIONS WORKSHOP | Jan 31 - Feb 1, 2019 | Tropenmuseum

On January 31 – February 1 RCMC organizes the international workshop Hidden in Plain Sight. Visualizing Slavery in the Dutch Empire. This workshop seeks to examine the to-date under-examined area within (art) history writing in and of the Netherlands: the visual culture of the Dutch colonial empire, especially in relation to the Dutch Atlantic colonial project.

The workshop takes NMVW’s collection of prints and drawings of the Dutch Atlantic world as starting point. Taken together as a collection, these images provide entryways into the visual economies of the Dutch colonial period, especially the nineteenth century, helping us understand not only the complexity of colonial life, but also the work of images in the colonial project. At stake in this workshop is also the question of what remains uncollected, and therefore ‘invisible’ from the museum’s archives. Our intention is to locate the Netherlands within current scholarship on the visual culture of empire, as we try to think of the Dutch colonial project beyond the national framework.

The meeting forms part of RCMC’s broader research project Materializing Slavery. This project, as well as the exhibition Afterlives of Slavery in the Tropenmuseum, form part of our on-going attempts to explore (the legacies of) the history of Dutch slavery and colonialism in the Netherlands, and will inform the future renovation of our semi-permanent gallery on slavery and colonialism in the Tropenmuseum.


Théodore Bray (1818 - 1887), 'Plantation Director with Enslaved People at the Hospital'. TM-3444-15.