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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.
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 currently contains over 340,000 pieces, of which 175,000 are Material Culture (objects), 155,000 are photographic material (photographs, albums, slides, negatives etc.), and 10,000 other imagery (drawings, paintings, documents etc.).
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.