A tour in the museum, connecting history and today.
A tour in the museum, connecting history and today.

Museum van Loon

First tenant of this residence on Keizersgracht 672, in 1672, was Ferdinand Bol, a Dutch painter and former student of Rembrandt. Since 1884 the Van Loon family lived here. Willem van Loon (1537-1618) was one of the founders of the VOC (Dutch East India Company), and in the 16th century Moor heads were added to the coat of arms of the Van Loon family. Jan van Loon (1677-1763) was director of the WIC (West India Company) and the Society of Surinam, but the Van Loon family was mainly connected to the VOC. Today the building houses Museum van Loon, and is open to the public. A painting in the hallway, by Jan Miense Molenaer (1637), shows the wedding of Willem van Loon and Margaretha Bas. A black man is visible on the right, is he a servant or a status symbol? First the sign said he was a servant. Later it said he was not real, nut only a symbol of status. But we just don't know, it should be investigated. So the text was changed and the black man wasn't mentioned at all any more. 

Also the former director of the museum only wanted to tell about the trade glory of the Van Loon family, leaving the dark part out. In 2013 an exhibition was held about the family's own links to colonialism and slavery: Suspended Histories.

Foto: Gijs Schunselaar
Foto: Gijs Schunselaar
In front of Museum van Loon
In front of Museum van Loon

After placing the Martin Luther King statue in front of the museum, director Gijs Schunselaar decided to change the text on the sign next to the Wedding painting, mentioning the black man again, saying that we don't know who he is. Also in October 2019 there will be an exhibition where for the first time the less attractive sides of the Van Loon family will be highlighted. Real stories of the wealthy merchants and, more importantly, also the stories of descendants of the enslaved Africans.

Commewijne river at Potribo in Surinam, one of the plantations where the Van Loon family invested in. (image Museum van Loon)
Commewijne river at Potribo in Surinam, one of the plantations where the Van Loon family invested in. (image Museum van Loon)