As a way of stimulating research into the photography collections of the museum, the Tholenaar van Raalte Fellowship supports innovative new scholarship on ethnographic photography.
The NMVW holds an extensive collection of approximately 700,000 photographs. This diverse collection mainly stems from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, and situates photography as a complex agent in (Dutch) colonial history, ethnography and early popular culture. It also includes imagery from photographers, studios and family albums (mainly in South-East Asia and the Caribbean) that testify to the ways in which the medium of photography was indigenized in various locations across the world in that same period. Other areas of the photo collection, which currently remain under-explored, include fieldwork photographs by Dutch anthropologists since the 1960s and visual documentation of Dutch development aid policies.