Histories of Global Netherlandish Art, 1550-1750


25 April 2019
15:00 - 17:00
University College Utrecht, Auditorium (Campusplein 1)

3rd Global Art History and Heritage seminar: Wonu Veijs

Wonu Veijs (National Museum of World Cultures): The AAMU collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Art at the National Museum of World Cultures

On 14 June 2017 the most important contemporary Aboriginal art collection housed at the AAMU in Utrecht was transferred to the National Museum of World Cultures. In so doing, the collection went from a privately non-state funded institution to a national museum, from a small-scale organisation to a large museum with four locations and from a contemporary art museum to an ethnographic museum. The handover of collections raises a number of questions, which I would like to address and discuss during this seminar. I will first give a brief contextual and historical overview of both the AAMU (Aboriginal Arts Museum Utrecht) and the National Museum of World Cultures, to then address the considerations made for the transfer. Subsequently, I will address some larger issues. How relevant is the distinction between the art and the ethnographic museum with regards to the contemporary Aboriginal art collection? What are the challenges and possibilities for the collection in the new versus the old institutional setting? Finally, I want to conclude with some concrete examples of how the collection has been activated in the past months at the National Museum of World Cultures.


Fanny Wonu Veys is curator Oceania at the National Museum of World Cultures, a Dutch umbrella organization comprising the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam; Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden; the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal; and the Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam. She has previously worked at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge (UK) (2004–2006, 2008–2009) and has held postdoctoral fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) (2006–2007) and at the Musée du Quai Branly (Paris) (2007–2008).

She curated the Mana Māori exhibition (2010–2011) in Leiden and published a book with the same title. She co-curated a barkcloth exhibition Tapa, Étoffes cosmiques d’Océanie in Cahors (France) and the Australian Art exhibition (with Georges Petitjean) at the Museum Volkenkunde.

Her fieldwork sites include New Zealand (since 2000), Tonga (since 2003) and more recently Arnhem Land, Australia (since 2014). Her topics of interest and expertise include Pacific art and material culture, museums and cultures of collecting, Pacific musical instruments, Pacific textiles, and the significance of historical objects in a contemporary setting. She has published numerous articles in journals and books. Her most recent single-authored book is Unwrapping Tongan Barkcloth: Encounters, Creativity and Female Agency (Bloomsbury, 2017).