Curiosities from the East

The origins of the Tropenmuseum of World Cultures lie in the Koloniaal Museum in Haarlem that was founded in 1864. The collection consisted largely of unusual items that the Dutch brought back from the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia. These curiosities were not only the subject of scientific research, but were also exhibited to the Dutch people. When the Vereniging Koloniaal Instituut (Colonial Society Institute) in Amsterdam was founded in 1910, it incorporated the museum in Haarlem.


The Tropeninstituut (Royal Tropical Institute)


When the Koloniaal Instituut was finished and delivered, it was not only the biggest building in Amsterdam, it was also the most controversial. Debates raged between those in favour of and those against the historical design of Van Nieukerken, the result of which the construction was drastically delayed. The entire beautification committee resigned after the municipality approved the Koloniaal Instituut’s design.


Entrance on the Mauritskade

Marble hall

The central hall of the Tropenmuseum on the Mauritskade (quay) is an octagonal marble hall. Twelve different types of Italian marble are worked into symmetrical patterns in the floors, pillars, walls and staircases. One of these, vert polcevera, has become so scarce that the quarry is only permitted to supply the marble for restoration purposes.


Octagonal marble hall of the Tropenmuseum of World Cultures