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Exhibiting Slavery and Representing Black Lives—Art Museums and the Legacies of the Dutch Slave Trade: Curating Histories, Envisioning Futures (Part 1)

Part of a diorama with carved wooden figures representing Black women and men playing musical instruments and dancing.
Gerrit Schouten, Surinamese, Diorama of a Du, Dance Celebration on the Plantation (detail), 1830. Carved and painted wood with paper and other materials. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, NG-2005-24.

Special Event

This event was recorded. Please view the talk on our Vimeo channel.

Curators will discuss their work on groundbreaking projects in the Netherlands and the United States, namely the Rijksmuseum’s current Slavery exhibition, the Rembrandthuis Museum’s exhibition Here: Black in Rembrandt’s Time, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s reinstallation of its permanent collection, and the Museums Are Not Neutral initiative. They will reflect on the broader call for museums to recognize the relationship of their collections to slavery and to present-day racial injustice.

This is the first session of Art Museums and the Legacies of the Dutch Slave Trade: Curating Histories, Envisioning Futures, presented by the Center for Netherlandish Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Harvard Art Museums, and Harvard University’s Department of History of Art and Architecture. This four-part program explores efforts by art museums to deploy their spaces and their collections—which are often enmeshed with colonialism and exploitation—to present more complete narratives of and perspectives on slavery and its legacies.

Christopher Atkins, Van Otterloo-Weatherbie Director, Center for Netherlandish Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Sarah Mallory, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

“The Rijksmuseum and Slavery”
Maria Holtrop, Curator of History, Rijksmuseum

“Black Presence in 17th-Century Western Art”
Stephanie Archangel, Junior Curator, History Department, Rijksmuseum

“Reflections on Re-envisioning LACMA’s Permanent Collection”
Diva Zumaya, Assistant Curator, European Painting and Sculpture, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

“Possibilities of Imagining Otherwise”
La Tanya S. Autry, cultural organizer, co-producer of Museums Are Not Neutral, founder of the Black Liberation Center, and independent curator

This program will take place online via Zoom. Free admission, but registration is required. To register, please complete this online form.

For instructions on how to join a meeting in Zoom, please click here. If you have any questions, please contact

The Harvard Art Museums are committed to accessibility for all visitors. For anyone requiring accessibility accommodations for our programs, please contact us at at least 48 hours in advance.

Please also join us for the other sessions in this series (all times Eastern):
Part 2, Friday, April 16, 1pm
Part 3, Friday, April 23, 11am
Part 4, Friday, April 23, 1pm

Separate registration is required for each portion of the program.

Art Museums and the Legacies of the Dutch Slave Trade: Curating Histories, Envisioning Futures is organized by Sarah Mallory, Kéla Jackson, and Rachel Burke, all doctoral students in Harvard University’s Department of History of Art and Architecture, and Joanna Sheers Seidenstein, the Stanley H. Durwood Foundation Curatorial Fellow in the Division of European and American Art, at the Harvard Art Museums.

Student research informing this conference was supported by a student grant from the presidential initiative on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery, a university-wide effort housed at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute.