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Originally called the Colonial Institute, the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam informed the people of the Netherlands about the overseas parts of the Netherlands. Its building was purpose-built and it is rich with materials and imagery from the former Dutch colonies. As the former colonies became countries the expertise that existed was maintained but the organisation was re-purposed; it became the Royal Tropical Institute with the Tropenmuseum as its museum. As of April 1st 2013, the Tropenmuseum became part of a new foundation, together with the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal and Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden. As the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (National Museum of World Cultures) the institute house one of the largest ethnographical collections in the world.
The Tropenmuseum collectionEdit
Nowadays, the Tropenmuseum is one of Europe's leading ethnographic museums. The museum has ten permanent exhibitions and together with the temporary exhibitions, there is always something new to discover.
The Tropenmuseum collection contains over 369,000 pieces, of which 153,000 are Material Culture (objects, including visual collections like drawings, paintings, documents etc.) and 216,000 are photographic material (photographs, albums, slides, negatives etc.). As a whole, the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen houses 600,000 pieces, of which 367,000 are Material Culture (objects, including 2D material) and 230,000 are photographic material.
The Wikimedia partnershipEdit
The Tropenmuseum is a very outgoing organisation and, when it was approached to consider sharing its collection on Commons for use in the many Wikipedias, several approaches were pioneered. The absence of formality allowed for an easy and growing relationship; as both partners were eager for a success, no time was wasted. The Tropenmuseum was also the first to provide us with high resolution material for digital restoration purposes. This resulted in a growing number of featured pictures.
The continuing saga of the Tropenmuseum and Wikimedia partnership can be followed here.
The significance of the Tropenmuseum collection on CommonsEdit
As the subject matter of the Tropenmuseum is the tropics, its collection is part of the cultural heritage of many cultures and countries. So far material from Suriname and Indonesia have made its way to Commons and these collections are finding their way in more and more articles and are consequently seen by more and more people.