Dutch Museum to Rename Art For Cultural Sensitivity by Removing Terms Like ‘Negro.’

Jan Jansz

Amsterdam’s acclaimed Rijksmuseum is taking a major step towards being more inclusive to its audience.

As part of an effort to keep with the times and approach museumgoers in a modern fashion, the museum recently announced that it will be changing the names of several works in its catalog. Works with outdated terms like “negro” will be changed to be more culturally sensitive. Under this new initiative, called the Adjustment of Colonial Terminology, officials will alter the titles of about 350 works in the the Rijksmuseum’s 1.1 million piece collection.

“It’s a matter of dignity and the modern way of approaching our audience, which is not only a white audience,” says Martine Gosselink, head of Rijksmuseum’s department of history.

One example of such a change is the renaming of a 1900 work by Dutch artist Simon Maris from “Young Negro-Girl” to “Picture of Girl Holding a Fan.” Terms like “Eskimo” will also be considered for removal.

The initiative hopes to shift a European-centered perspective on art and history. Gosselink also emphasizes that these changes will be brought about with much scrutiny and that the original terms will still be accessible via the museum’s archive. The museum is also working with representatives from various indigenous groups.

Featured Image: “Portrait of an African Man (Christophle le More?),” Jan Jansz Mostaert, c. 1525 – c. 1530.