Amsterdam’s acclaimed Rijksmuseum has started renaming works of art in its vast collection whose titles could be considered inappropriate by a modern audience.
Words considered derogatory, like “negro,” which were once used casually by Europeans, will be replaced in the museum’s digital catalog, as well as in text descriptions next to objects in the galleries.
Through the initiative, called Adjustment of Colonial Terminology, museum officials expect to alter around 350 titles in a collection which numbers 1.1 million pieces.
“It’s a matter of dignity and the modern way of approaching our audience, which is not only a white audience,” says Martine Gosselink, head of Rijksmuseum’s department of history.
For example, a 1900 painting by Dutch artist Simon Maris which was originally called “Young Negro-Girl” will be known as “Picture of Girl Holding a Fan” from now on.