Decolonising museums: in practice this is…?
The policies of Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam) and a reflection on the Portuguese case
with Wayne Modest and Portuguese experts
22 March, Friday, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2.30 – 4.30 p.m.
Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon (A. Sedas Nunes Auditorium)

Part 1 – Communication of Wayne Modest
Vídeo or podcast
Part 2 – Debate with Wayne Modest
Vídeo ou podcast
Part 3 – Debate on the Portuguese case (in Portuguese)
Vídeo ou podcast

The proposal for the creation of the Museum of Discoveries by the Municipality of Lisbon has also brought to Portugal the debate on the decolonisation of museums, taking place in several countries around the world, especially in countries that had colonies and / or with a strong connection to slavery. The debate in Portugal has been intense, which can be considered a good sign. Rarely are museums and their role in society discussed publicly. Furthermore, more recently, with the Sarr-Savoy report commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron, the issue of restitution of objects illegally removed from their territories of origin during the colonial period brought more pressure on museums in relation to their practices.

Access Culture would like to further the reflection that began last year. To that end, we invited Wayne Modest, Deputy Director of the Tropenmuseum, a reference in what concerns decolonisation practices in museums. Among other things, we wish to know:

  • What does it mean to decolonise a museum?
  • What is the context and the reasons why Tropenmuseum decided to adopt a decolonisation strategy?
  • How was this strategy built? Who was involved?
  • How was it put into practice?
  • What are the results so far?
  • What have been the reactions of museum staff, other museum professionals, museum visitors and the society in general?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of this practice so far? What has the museum learnt?

The presentation of Wayne Modest will be followed by a debate with Portuguese experts from various areas related to this theme:

  • António Pinto Ribeiro (to be confirmed)
  • Catarina Simão
  • Isabel Raposo Magalhães
  • Joacine Katar Moreira
  • Judith Primo
  • Luís Raposo
  • Mamadou Ba
  • Paulo Costa

Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon