Good Hope. South Africa and The Netherlands from 1600

November 29 2016 - 4:30 PM Exhibition

In 2017 the Rijksmuseum will be presenting the first major exhibition about the relationship between South Africa and the Netherlands. 400 years of emotive history in 300 items, most of which come from South Africa. Robert Jacob Gordon’s landscape panoramas, several metres long, occupy a prominent place in the exhibition. This Dutch traveller illustrated 18th-century South Africa, giving the country an identity. The imposing portraits of children born after 1994 – when apartheid was abolished – by the South African photographer Pieter Hugo illustrate South Africa’s future. Along with the exhibition, the NTR (Dutch public-service broadcaster) will be broadcasting a seven-part TV series presented by Hans Goedkoop.

mandela Maurice Boyer, Nelson Mandela during his welcome on Amsterdam's Leidseplein, 16 June 1990. Photo Maurice Boyer

“The 'Good Hope' exhibition illustrates a significant aspect of Dutch colonial history in all its nuances. A tale that is both painful and striking, but more especially disturbing and recognisable.” Adriaan van Dis , The exhibition’s narrator, a Dutch writer and Africa specialist

Good Hope. South Africa and The Netherlands from 1600 can be seen from 17 February until 21 May 2017 in the Rijksmuseum

South Africa and The Netherlands

Martine Gosselink, Head of the History Department at the Rijksmuseum and the exhibition’s producer:
The arrival of the Dutch changed South Africa once and for all. The population’s composition and the introduction of slavery by the VOC (the Dutch East India Company) result from the ties with our country. But this also applies to the language, Afrikaans, the legal system, the protestant church, the introduction of Islam, the typical façades and the Dutch names on the map. The relationship with South Africa also changed the Netherlands. The Boer Wars around 1900, countless ‘Transvaal districts’ in Dutch cities and the violent anti-apartheid struggle of the 1980s symbolise a continuously tempestuous relationship. In this exhibition, around 300 paintings, drawings, documents, photos, items of furniture, souvenirs, tools and archaeological discoveries give a vivid impression of the culture shared and the influence reciprocated by the two countries.

The exhibition Good Hope is made possible by
Rijksmuseum Fonds: Familie W. Cordia, Johan Huizinga Fonds, Cees and Ingeborg van der Burg, Gerard Krans, Fonds 1975, Fonds de Zuidroute, Stichting New Angle and an anonymous bequest.

VSBfonds, Mondriaan Fund, Stichting Dr. Hendrik Muller’s Vaderlandsch Fonds, DutchCulture, ING, the Patrons of the Rijksmuseum and lenders to the exhibition.

Visitor information exhibition along with Good Hope. South Africa and The Netherlands From 1600

Guided Tours
The exhibition’s guides are South Africans who will explain the exhibition from a personal perspective due to their background and personal connection with the country.

  • Each Sunday a tour from 3 to 4 p.m., € 5 p.p. (excluding museum admission). No reservation needed.
  • Group tour: € 75 per 15 people excluding museum admission). Reservation via

Audio Tour by Adriaan van Dis
The commentary for the audio tour is provided by Dutch writer and Africa specialist Adriaan van Dis. Van Dis accompanies the visitor through the exhibition, connecting the various periods, recounting unusual anecdotes and paying special attention to the development of the language.

The audio tour also includes personal stories recorded by South Africans and South Africa specialists.

The audio tour can be downloaded onto your own smartphone free of charge via the Rijksmuseum app, or can be rented for € 5 in the Rijksmuseum.

Book: Good Hope. South Africa and The Netherlands from 1600
Along with the exhibition, a richly illustrated book is being published containing 56 contributions from 26 authors from the fields of literature, language, (art) history, archaeology, politics and journalism. The authors have widely varying outlooks with regard to the shared past of South Africa and the Netherlands and together interpret current thinking on this subject. The introduction is written by Adriaan van Dis.

The publication (260 illustrations) forms part of the Rijksmuseum’s Country Series, which highlights the history of countries that share a heritage with the Netherlands.

Publisher: Vantilt; published February 2017
Title: Good Hope. South Africa and The Netherlands from 1600

Special South Africa Afternoon
A vibrant afternoon full of music, talks and discussions about South Africa and the Netherlands. Participating:
Nomapostile Nyiki sings ancient poetry whose strong spiritual link resonates with her family, the country and the language;
Martine Gosselink talks about the Good Hope Exhibition;
Lungiswa Plaatjies performs on traditional instruments;
Adriaan van Dis in discussion with rapper, poet and singer Jitsvinger about ‘Afrikaaps’.

Date: Sunday afternoon 26 March 2017, 2 p.m.
Place: Rijksmuseum Auditorium
Moderators: Adriaan van Dis and Martine Gosselink
Reservation via

Good hope for a new generation - Reflections on diversity and change in South Africa and the Netherlands.
In collaboration with the Vrije Universiteit (Free University), Amsterdam
5 April 2017

In recent years students of the so-called born-free generation in South Africa have been urging their universities for change and demanding transformation of the curricula, equal access, staff diversity and better job opportunities. South Africa is in transition. But so is the Netherlands. The aim of this symposium is for the Dutch and South Africans to learn from each other in building an open and diverse nation where talents can develop. For this symposium, two South African speakers are invited to reflect on the past and especially on the future of the new generation.


  • Adriaan van Dis, writer and Africa specialist
  • Antjie Krog, writer, poet and member of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (Waarheids- en Verzoeningcommissie)
  • Mamokgethi Phakeng, University of Cape Town professor

Date: Wednesday afternoon 5 April 2017
Place: Rijksmuseum Auditorium
Reservation via:

TV series
NTR TV series Goede Hoop
Historian Hans Goedkoop takes us with him in a seven-part series on the history of the Dutch in South Africa. The series is running simultaneously with the Good Hope Exhibition in the Rijksmuseum and can be seen weekly on Thursday evenings on Dutch Television from 23 March 2017.

Klokhuis series
In addition to the documentary series, the Dutch Children TV programme Het Klokhuis is producing a six-part series for young people. This starts in March 2017 on NPO 2. NTR is augmenting this with an extensive website, and Schooltv is offering an adaptation for educational purposes.

Please download more information accompanying the exhibition (pdf)


Maurice Boyer, Nelson Mandela during his welcome on Amsterdam's Leidseplein, 16 June 1990. Collection Rijksmuseum
Pieter Hugo, Portrait of the serie ‘1994’, 2016. Rijksmuseum, Gift of Mr. P. Hugo, Kaapstad. Made possible with the support of Fonds 1975/Rijksmuseum Fonds.
Robert Jacob Gordon, A Giraffe with a Khoi on the left, 1779. Collection Rijksmuseum
Rob van der Aa, Outspan, Bloedsinaasappels, pers geen Zuidafrikaan uit!, 1975. International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam
Deed of purchase for the Cape Peninsula signed by the Khoekhoe captains Schagger and Kuiper and the VOC commander Goske, 1673. National Library of South Africa, Cape Town
P. Morozow, Adam Kok III (1811-1875), ca. 1860-18-75. Western Cape Archives, Cape Town
Anonymous, Collection tin with portraits of Paul Kruger and Martinus Steyn, 1899-1902. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Jan Brandes, The Table Mountain and Cape Town seen from the sea, 1787. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Pieter van Anraedt, Portrait of Simon van der Stel, c. 1677-78. Private collection
Hendrik Cloete with a slave holding his pipe, c. 1788. Familiearchief Swellengrebel, St.Maarten, Netherlands
Portrait of Anna de Koningh, 1685. Private collection
W.F. Mondriaan, Sketch of W.F. Mondriaan at the battle of Elandslaagte. 1899. Private collection
Recreated market of Culemborg at the Van Riebeeck festival terrain in Capetown, 1952. Collection Zuid-Afrikahuis, Amsterdam
Marlene Dumas, Watercolour from the series 'Being held by others', 1989. Long-term loan, Jan Maarten Boll. Photograph: Rijksmuseum
Bruyns’Bible and Boshoff’s Bible, 1859 and 1703. Msunduzi Museum – Incorporating the Voortrekker Complex, Petermaritzburg, Zuid-Afrika
Seating bench. c. 1950-1970. Museum Africa, Johannesburg, Zuid-Afrika
Ballon d’Or 1987. Collection Ruud Gullit, Amsterdam
Exhibition Good Hope. Photo Rijksmuseum
Exhibition Good Hope. Photo Rijksmuseum
Exhibition Good Hope. Photo Rijksmuseum
Exhibition Good Hope. Photo Rijksmuseum
Exhibition Good Hope. Photo Rijksmuseum
Exhibition Good Hope. Photo Rijksmuseum
Exhibition Good Hope. Photo Rijksmuseum

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