Day: April 9, 2021

MFA’s Netherlandish art center raises difficult questions. And it hasn’t even opened yet.

But the past year, with its amplified calls for racial reckoning, demands some very public acknowledgments about the roots of all historical collections, this one included. Four hundred years ago, in a moneyed capital of European colonialism, is the place to start.

The symposium — its full name is “Art Museums and the Legacies of the Dutch Slave Trade: Curating Histories, Envisioning Futures” — was convened by the MFA in partnership with Harvard Art Museums, as well as Harvard’s History of Art and Architecture department. They didn’t start this conversation — Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum just opened an exhibition called “Slavery,” a first in its more than 200-year history, to examine the human trade that helped underpin the country’s status as a colonial superpower, while across town the Rembrandthuis Museum ran “Here: Black in Rembrandt’s Time” through last summer — but you can be sure our local institutions are eager

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