Amsterdam is known for its many wonderful museums of art and culture. There are many located all around the city that I regularly visit and explore. My favorite is the Van Gogh museum. It is a multilevel museum that follows the story of not only Van Gogh’s progression as an artist, but it also follows his personal relationships and declining mental health. Another favorite is the Rijksmuseum that owns many paintings by Vermeer and Rembrandt.
I recently visited a famous museum in Amsterdam called the TropenMuseum. The TropenMuseum is a beautiful 20th century building that first opened in 1926. On their website, it explains that the mission of this Museum is to showcase the story of humans from all over the world specifically Dutch colonies. It focuses on how emotions, storytelling, love, celebrating, and fighting are central to all humans. those aspects unite us all no matter where we come from. These ideas were present in the TropenMuseum from the powerful exhibits that this museum had. The first exhibit I looked at was about a photographer who spent a lot of time in Papa New Guinea, a Dutch colony, and decided to donate some western t-shirts to some of the civilians there. The people who received the t-shirts then ripped calculated holes and tears in the clothing. They also braided and weaved the strands around to create a unique look. The photographer then took striking pictures of the Papuans wearing their t-shirts. This exhibit was fascinating because it was a clear example of the way different cultures express themselves. The Papuans took these simple unextraordinary t-shirts and made them into expressive art that they wear.
The second exhibit that we looked at was of the Surinamese people. The Surinamese were taken as slaves by the Dutch settlers and they worked on plantations. At the TropenMuseum we were shown a room in which many angisas (an angisa is a headscarf the women slaves were forced to wear) were hung on the ceiling. The women eventually started using the angisa as messages as to when they would plan to escape. They would write messages on the scarves and pass them along to fellow slaves. The scarves were then eventually used as a fashion statement in modern times after slavery was abolished. The head scarves that are hung in the TropenMuseum are beautifully decorated and symbolize the strength and resilience of the Surinamese people.
After we visited the Museum we went to the Surinamese street market nearby where we tasted authentic Surinamese food. It was truly some of the best food I have had in Amsterdam since being there. It was a pretty eye opening day because i’ve been living in this city for a few months but had no idea of the rich culture of the Surinamese people. I hadn’t even known the market was there so it was interesting to me that I can keep discovering wonderful parts of Amsterdam.