Uncovering a colonial past

For nearly 250 years Denmark was a colonial power in the West Indies, now known as the US Virgin Islands. 2017 marks the centenary of the sale of the West Indies to the United States and a number of museums in and around Copenhagen have used this occasion to shed light on Denmark’s colonial past. Delve into the enlightening and diverse exhibitions. Who knows, you might discover something about contemporary culture along the way.
Thursday, November 9, 2017

Stop Slavery!
At The Workers Museum the colonial history of Denmark is used as the point of departure for a broader exhibition on human enslavement. “Stop Slavery!” draws on historical material from the West Indians but ultimately recounts a more universal and continuous story about the individual’s fight for freedom.
The Workers Museum. Open until 25th March 2018. See more.

Listen to the personal accounts
The individual stories of those who experienced Danish colonialism first-hand is the focal point of “Voices from the colonies”, a new permanent exhibition at The National Museum of Denmark. Here you encounter 34 personal stories from not only West India, but also from India, West Africa and Greenland.
Read more about the permanent exhibition. 

What do we see?
“No reproduction is neutral”, states The Royal Library in their description of “Blind Spots”, an exhibition about the visual cultural history of the West Indies. Images, postcards and other visual material from Danish archives and collections are displayed alongside art work by contemporary visual artists from Denmark and the Virgin Islands. Together the images question what we actually see and what lies beneath the images. A series of concerts, debates and other performances accompany the exhibition.
Open until 3rd February 2018. See more.

Visit the Carribean Government House
Christiansborg Palace offers a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the notorious Danish Governor, Peter von Scholten, who lived in the West Indies from 1814-1848. The interior of the Government House at St. Croix, which was emptied and shipped back to Denmark after the sale in 1917, is now at display in the palace situated right in the middle of Copenhagen. “Behind Colonial Mirrors” will transport you back in time, to a luxurious yet indefensible era of Danish history.
Open until December 2017. See more.

Explore the archives
The Danish National Archives have made its vast digitized archive of this 250 year period in Danish history accessible for the public. The online archives include documents from the sales treaty of 1917, ownership history of the colonies, personal accounts as well as a portrait of the black labor leader David Hamilton Jackson. A timeline from 1650 to 1917 provides a useful overview.
See the online archive.

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Article by

Michelle From Hoxer