Tropenmuseum Amsterdam gives art to Surinam

August 2006 -

Amsterdam and Paramaribo have once again strengthened their cultural-historical ties. The Tropenmuseum recently gave 45 pieces of art to the Surinaams Museum. The collection consists of paintings, sculptures, photographs and silkscreen prints by renowned Surinam artists, including Erwin De Vries, Rudi Getrouw and Nic Loning.


All of the artwork dates from before Surinam’s independence in 1975. The Surinaams Museum welcomes the gift as an addition to its existing collection of contemporary Surinam art. “One large collection is better than two small ones,” says the project manager for the Tropenmuseum, Frans Fontaine. “That is the reason for the gift.” What is more: the works of art are “where they belong” in Paramaribo, and were seldom on display in Amsterdam.

Fontaine purchased the Surinam artworks on behalf of the museum in 1990 from the Cultural Cooperation Foundation (Stichting Culturele Samenwerking or Sticusa), which was being liquidated at the time. This foundation was established in 1948 to stimulate cultural contact between the Netherlands, Indonesia, Surinam and the Antilles. The Amsterdam museum promised to subsequently turn the collection over to the Surinaams Museum on the condition that the works of art would be managed and stored under suitable circumstances. It took fifteen years to get that far, but the time has finally come.

With financial support from the Netherlands government’s HGIS culture budget, an entirely revised and expanded depot has been constructed on the Zorg en Hoop compound in Paramaribo. “It is not completely finished yet, but the worst leaks have been sealed,” Fontaine explains.

The Tropenmuseum will also provide training for the staff of the Surinaams Museum. According to Fontaine, they are a “small but enthusiastic team that courageously and ingeniously keeps things together with sticky tape and rubber bands”. He hopes that the successful project will have “a stimulating effect” so that the Surinam government will also be willing to make a financial contribution in the future.