NMVW

Teruggave van culturele objecten; principes en processen

Return of Cultural Objects: Principles and Process sets out the process by which objects/collections can be claimed for return from the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (hereafter NMVW), Leiden, the Netherlands. The full document can be found by following this link.

Return of Cultural Objects expresses the overall mission of NMVW to address the long, complex and entangled histories that have resulted in the collections the museum holds. It is part of a larger commitment made by NMVW to the role of collections in national public life; a commitment that includes researching and making publicly accessible its collection; addressing provenance issues arising from colonial appropriations; developing new ethical possibilities for collections; putting contemporary communities on an equal footing as national collections and engaging in dialogue with communities and nations of source, nationally and internationally, who have particular attachment to the collections.

 

Return of Cultural Objects: Principles and Process

Return of Cultural Objects makes clear NMVW’s commitment to transparently address and evaluate claims for the return of cultural objects according to standards of respect, cooperation and timeliness. NMVW recognizes that claims can only be successful when made in a context which allows for consultation and open dialogue and clear communication by all parties. NMVW undertakes to provide guidance in regard to claims being made and will provide access to information held by the museum.

Return of Cultural Objects does not represent official Dutch State policy. It sets out NMVW’s intentions, and describes which criteria and processes NMVW will apply when advising the Minister for Education, Culture and Science (hereafter Minister) when claims are made regarding the collections of which NMVW is a custodian, namely the collections of the following three museums within the organisation: the Afrikamuseum in Berg en Dal, the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden. These collections are part of NMVW and are owned by the Dutch State (Rijkscollecties).

The  owner of the NMVW collections is the Dutch State. The Minister as a representative of the Dutch State retains responsibility for  coming to a final decision regarding the transfer of ownership to any claimant, following detailed advice and recommendations given in answer to a claim.

The Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam collection which can be accessed through the same online collection database is owned by the city government of Rotterdam. Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam collections are recognised by inventory numbers with the prefix “WM”.  As noted in Section 7 of the Return of Cultural Objects, claims can be made for Wereldmuseum collections, but due to differences in ownership the decision lies with the city government

Return of Cultural Objects does not apply to claims that are part of the Second World War era in Europe. These are covered by the Dutch Restitution process/Dutch Restitution Committee and should be referred there.  

ENQUIRIES

Object enquiries:
Any object enquiry that you may have relating to the collections of the National Museum van Wereldculturen, the Netherlands, and the Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam can be pursued in our collection database. Almost our entire collection is published online and can be accessed through the following link.

However, there is a small number of objects that is not included in our on-line version. If you believe that particular objects are or have been in our collection but cannot be found in our online database, than please send your inquiry to collectie@werelculturen.nl so we can investigate on your behalf.

General enquiries:
Should you wish to make a general enquiry regarding the issue, than please send your inquiry to collectie@werelculturen.nl

Press enquiries:
Should you wish to make an enquiry as a member of the press, please address your enquiry to Justin Hahury.

Specific research based enquiries:
Should you wish to make specific research based enquiries please either address your enquiry to afdelingconservatoren@wereldculturen.nl.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Return of Cultural Objects apply to?
Return of Cultural Objects does not represent official Dutch State policy. It sets out NMVW’s intentions, and describes which criteria and processes NMVW will apply when advising the Minister for Education, Culture and Science when claims are made regarding the collections of which NMVW is a custodian, namely the collections of the following three museums within the organisation: the Afrikamuseum in Berg en Dal, the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden. Their collections are part of NMVW and are owned by the Dutch State (Rijkscollecties). 
The  owner of the NMVW collections is the Dutch State. The Minister as a representative of the Dutch State retains responsibility for  coming to a final decision regarding the transfer of ownership to any claimant, following detailed advice and recommendations given in answer to a claim. 
Return of Cultural Objects does not apply to any other European nation or any other collection within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, state or otherwise. As noted in Section 7 of the Return of Cultural Objects, claims for collections belonging to the Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam, can be made and will be processed in the same way, however ultimate responsibility lies with the  city government of Rotterdam.

Who does the Return of Cultural Objects apply to?
Claimants according the definitions of the document can be 1) Individuals; 2) Governments/governmental actors; 3) Communities, polities or sub-State entities with nationally recognized political governance; 4) National (cultural) institutions.
As is stated in Section 5 of the document, there is an expectation that claimants would be able to describe cultural continuity or genuine link with the cultural object(s) claimed, in terms of national heritage, persistence of beliefs, persistence of culture.

What are the criteria?
The criteria can be found in Section 4 of the document. This notes that the objects need to fall under one of the criteria. There are three criteria: legality (4.2), involuntary separation (4.3), heritage value (4.4) and the scope of each is given in the document. Please refer there.

How do I make a claim?
All claims must be made in writing and sent to the Drs Stijn Schoonderwoerd, Director, Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen,  PO Box 2312, Leiden, the Netherlands/e-mail (special box?).

Each case must include the information identified through the Return of Cultural Objects criteria (section 4); guidelines (section 5) and format (Appendix II).

All cultural objects claimed must include their inventory number (which can be found on the collection online). Links to our online database is here [Pas Op voor Marketing: insert hyperlink here]

The claim will be managed in accordance with the process outlined in Section 6 of the document, or in the case of those collections not belonging to the State, in accordance with Section 7 of the document. 

Return of Cultural Objects includes an indicative timescale for the management of the claim.

Who can I talk to about a claim?

Please identify the nature of your enquiry in the general enquiry form, please be brief but precise, as this will allow us to answer your question more fully. The link is found here: collectie@werelculturen.nl.

Claims for Return of Cultural Objects NMVW; Principles and Process