The exhibition Slavery. Ten True Stories of Dutch Colonial Slavery opens today to the public at the United Nations (UN) in New York. Staged by the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands’ national museum of art and history, the Slavery exhibition will be on display until March 30 in the visitors’ lobby of the UN Headquarters, seen by thousands of diplomats and members of the public from all over the world every day.

For the conclusion of the exhibition on 30 March, the Rijksmuseum will organise a keynote discussion about 'museums and the colonial past' with experts from the United States, the Caribbeans and Europe, hosted by the UN in the ECOSOC Chamber at the UN.

This powerful exhibition calls on us all to put an end to racism and injustice in our own time and make inclusive societies based on dignity and rights a reality everywhere.

In response to the display of the exhibit, Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres

At the invitation of the United Nations, the Rijksmuseum has staged a special version of its acclaimed Slavery exhibition first seen in Amsterdam in 2021. In New York, the ten personal stories from the original exhibition will be presented around a single object from the Rijksmuseum collection: wooden foot stocks (c. 1700-1850). Used during the Dutch colonial period, several people could be constrained in foot stocks like these as corporal punishment to prevent them from fleeing.

Hosted by the UN, the Rijksmuseum will organize a talks programme in the ECOSOC Chamber on 30 March on museums and the colonial past. Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson will be the featured speaker. Panelists are Director of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society Alissandra Cummins, Visiting Professor, Slavery & Public Engagement at the University of Liverpool Richard Benjamin. Rijksmuseum will be resented by its Head of History Valika Smeulders and General Director Taco Dibbits.

Recognising the continuing impact of slavery on world history is of great importance. We are very grateful to the United Nations for drawing attention to this important subject through the exhibition.

Taco Dibbits, General Director of the Rijksmuseum

The exhibition Slavery. Ten True Stories of Dutch Colonial Slavery is hosted by the United Nations as part of the United Nations Outreach Programme on the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery. The exhibition is made possible in part by the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN and the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York City. The exhibition will also be made available in adapted form for display until 31 December 2024 at other UN offices worldwide.

The Rijksmuseum’s Slavery exhibition of 2021 was made possible in part by the Mondriaan Fund, Blockbusterfonds, Fonds 21, DutchCulture, Democracy & Media Foundation, Stichting Thurkowfonds, Boomerang Agency and via the Rijksmuseum Fund: Scato Gockinga Fonds, Fonds de Zuidroute, Zusjes Nieuwbeerta Fonds, Fonds Dirk Jan van Orden, Henry M. Holterman Fonds and Bestuursfonds Hollandse Meesters.

Photo: Richard Koek

26 Feb - 30 March


United Nations Headquarters Visitors’ Lobby
1st Avenue at 46th Street, New York, NY 10017