A museum in Amsterdam has decided not to call the 17th century the 'Golden Age' of Netherlands whereas the century marked the pinnacle of the Dutch military and trading power. Museum authorities said that common description of the century used by the Netherlands in the world stage will not be used in an attempt to be “polyphonic and inclusive”. The term would no longer be used in future exhibitions and that the name of the museum’s permanent collection will be changed from Dutch in the Golden Age to Group Portraits of the 17th Century. The decision has sparked debate in the country.
The curator of the 17th century at the museum, Tom van der Molen said that the term 'Golden Age' did not do justice to those who were exploited during the era. Although it has an important place in Western historiography that is strongly linked to national pride, positive associations with the term such as prosperity, peace, opulence, and innocence do not cover the charge of historical reality in this period, he added. There were many negative issues such as poverty, war, forced labour and human trafficking which is ignored while glorying the period.
Debates on the treatment of subjects and artifices of the Dutch Colonial period in public spaces have become a matter of debate in the Netherland. In 2018, the Mauritshuis museum removed a bust of Count Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen from the museum’s foyer to which the prime minister, Mark Rutte, cautioned against judging the distant past through today’s eyes. Similarly, Zohair el Yassini, an MP for the governing centre-right VVD party, said the institution had “lost the plot completely” on the Amsterdam's museum's decision. A spokesman for the Christian Democratic Appeal party, Michel Rog said that the Amsterdam elite's getting hyper over correcting the history. They could have simply told the different shades the past had, he added.
The Amsterdam Museum has decided to hold a symposium about untold stories of the 17th century to hold ground on its decision. An exhibition entitled Dutch Masters Reviewed, about 13 Amsterdam residents and visitors of colour from the 17th and 18th centuries will be a part of the efforts of the museum. The museum's director Judikje Kiers said that it will continue to work for the public's awareness and justice. Undercover stories and perspectives of Dutch history will be portrayed in order to throw light on the issue, he said.