reproduction of family:part 5 /The group of 1938


For decades, the attic of the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam housed a number of life-size dolls –
forgotten and covered in dust, until I discovered their special history.
Made in 1938 by German doll maker Käthe Kruse, who had been commissioned by the museum, they became the embodiment of the Dutch colonies at the 1939 World Exhibition in New York. In this work ‘Reproduction of family part 5: The Dollhouse’ (2019) I reflect on the history and role of props as museum productions in relation to colonial histories. By zooming in on the skin of these dolls, damaged by the passage of time, and in the context of their history of origin. In a critical narrative, I want to give a voice to the props as forgotten colonial objects and examine the ideas surrounding theircreation and presentation. This work questions the role of the museum as a producer of‘culture’ when it comes to colonial and post-colonial histories, and the use of imitated human beings as exhibited objects. At the same time, there are parallels with how the colonial “body’ was treated and objectified.

specials thanks to
The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) , Research Center for Material Culture, Wereld museum Rotterdam,
Special to the  kathe kruse Museum and the Tropenmuseum,