african masksTropenmuseum Amsterdam
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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

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Tropenmuseum Amsterdam

New Africa section opens it's doors

KIT (Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen) Opened November 17th 2006 
Mauritskade 63
1092 AD Amsterdam
The Netherlands
+31 (0)20 568 8711
Fax: +31 (0)20 6684 579

Paul Faber, Curator Africa
Tel 0031-20-5688449
Fax 0031-20-5688331


I visited the new section of the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, and was quite impressed by the presentation. More fine African Art on view, mixed with explanation on the daily life in Africa. Surprising and astonishing.

by David Norden. January 2007

Tropenmuseum Amsterdam- photo (c) 2007 David Norden

When you enter in the old building you get a Shock because everything inside looks so modern. It is already five years they are remodeling the whole collections, with the new museal ideas in mind.

Since the opening of the Quai Branly the nice looking pieces are making a come-back in the Museums and with KIT it's no exception.

Objects are selected for the aesthetic quality. 

The use and purpose are less important, even the region, and the cultures are mixed in the vitrines.

The new idea is that to much anthropological information's are killing the beauty status of the objects.

But the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam solved this problem in an elegant way, the needed information can be found on touch screens near the vitrines.

Paul Faber the African Art curator from the Museum explain that it is nearly impossible to show the whole Africa in 400m2, the history, the teaching, the economy. Because you then get a child encyclopedia as a result.

The museum exhibit is not built around on geographical themes but around the following: power status, beliefs, masquerades, shapes and contact. With a mix in contemporary creations and antiquities, but all done in a professional way.

digitale kapsalonMore than in the Quai Branly stories are told, and interactivity is build with the visitor's, and there is much to learn about the shown objects for those willing to learn. Like the picture you can make from yourself with an African Hair dress, you can even send an email or print it out out for 50 cents.

digitale kapsalon.jpg (50808 bytes)

Several temporary exhibitions are running, and the permanent collections are really interesting.

This Museum shows you Africa is not in the Past, but also in the present.


David Norden


This exhibition presents objects collected by the Tropenmuseum from Africa south of the Sahara: an enormous area of tremendous cultural diversity and richness.

tropenmuseum amsterdamAfrica has a fascinating history spanning many centuries. This exhibition covers the last 150 years, a period in which Europeans colonised practically the entire continent, followed by the formation of new independent states.

The Tropenmuseum’s Africa collection embraces dozens of cultures from around twenty countries ranging from ritual images and masks to utensils, street art and fashion. Some objects represent ideas and customs that have largely vanished. Others represent changes that are taking place now. They all bear witness to a tenacious lust for life and the compelling creativity of Africa’s many peoples. The exhibition is divided into five themes: Status, Faith, Masquerade, Form and Contact.

Read also: 
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An exhibition of beaded costumes from every age and culture

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