Belgium’s AfricaMuseum has a reckoning with the past
Belgium’s AfricaMuseum shut its doors for five years as it came to terms with the brutality of the country’s colonial past. Now it’s turning its focus to issues of restitution and repatriation
When the newly revamped AfricaMuseum in Tervuren, Belgium, reopened its doors to the public in 2018 after a five-year hiatus, it found itself just about outdated again.
The palatial neoclassical building, once labelled "the last colonial museum in the world", had shut in 2013 as it sought to revamp its image and shift the focus of its exhibits from celebrating colonialism to confronting this violent, exploitative past. Only, by the time it reopened, the debate had moved on from the violence of colonialism to issues around restitution and the return of artefacts, leaving the museum to again play catch-up...