The Netherlands shares a great deal of MCH with the countries highlighted in this portal.
The Netherlands was a republic from 1581 to 1795, during which period it was also known as the Republic of the Seven United Provinces. The Dutch were traders, and they wanted to expand that trade. To finance these expeditions, private companies were established, namely the Dutch East India Company (‘VOC’) in 1602 and the Dutch West India Company (WIC) in 1621.
Because access to the sea was important, most MCH can be found along the coastal areas of the Netherlands. The VOC and WIC were companies with shareholders in the various Dutch provinces and were thus quartered in five and six cities, respectively. The VOC had quarters in Amsterdam, Middelburg, Hoorn, Enkhuizen and Rotterdam, whilst the WIC’s quarters were located in Delft, Amsterdam, Hoorn, Middelburg, Groningen and Rotterdam. There is no shortage of MCH in these cities: from company headquarters, building ornamentation and textile collections in museums to ethnographics and ceramics. Many vessels never reached their destination as a result of shipwrecks, wars, looting and mutinies. Many shipwrecks with a Dutch connection are scattered around the world.
The companies kept meticulous records. All of the companies’ activities were recorded in duplicate, in the Dutch language. Since the beginning of the 17th century, archives in the headquarters cities in the Netherlands and the most important trading posts have kept rich collections. These documents are often the first written historical documents regarding certain countries and areas. The largest VOC archive is kept in Jakarta, Indonesia. The National Archive houses a wealth of maps of MCH around the world.
Intangible heritage also still abounds. Many streets in the Netherlands refer to Indonesia, and there is a train station near The Hague named for the country (Station Laan van Nieuw Oost Indie). There are “Indonesian” neighbourhoods in Utrecht and Amsterdam. The large number of Indonesian and Surinamese restaurants are further proof that the ties are still there, as are the many stories that have been written down during oral history projects.
The first Dutch vessels that sailed the oceans were crewed by sailors from elsewhere in Europe, some of whom stayed in the countries they sailed to. By the time the VOC landed in Asia, Europeans had already settled in these posts. Every now and then, inhabitants of the trading countries would visit the Republic. This was exceptional in the first centuries of operation. These inhabitants were ‘presented’ during world exhibitions, and we have been able to put faces and names to some of them because of the pictures of them that were painted and the mention of their names in documents and stories.
In the 19th century, many Dutch sailed to the colonies, mainly to the Dutch West Indies and Suriname, including administrators, architects, traders and missionaries. Migration from the MCH countries to the Netherlands started at the beginning of the 20th century, at the end of the colonisation period. Many inhabitants of the Netherlands have roots in Indonesia and Suriname. They have many stories to tell that illustrate and interpret MCH and enliven the tangible heritage.
|Erfgoed Nederland||+31 (0)20 716 7350|
|ICOMOS NL||+31 (0)20 716 7350|
|Reinwardt Academie||+31 (0)20 527 7100|
Share this page
This website is part of and is managed by the Netherlands Institute for Heritage
This website is part of, and is managed by, The Netherlands Institute for Heritage.
As a national institution for cultural heritage, The Netherlands Institute for Heritage focuses on the transfer of knowledge and innovation in that field. The Netherlands Institute for Heritage promotes meetings between organisations (operating both within and outside the field of heritage) to address current societal issues, encourage reflection and organise knowledge exchanges and debates.
This website is sponsored by the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
Follow Erfgoed Nederland