Mauritshuis in The Hague


By Contested Histories Initiative

The Mauritshuis bears the name of Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen (1604–1679), who commissioned its construction and was its first occupant. In early 2018, the Mauritshuis faced an intense but brief controversy following its earlier removal of Johan Maurits’ bust from its foyer. Opponents such as Piet Emmer and centre-right to right-wing politicians, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte, argued against removing historical figures and images from public spaces, claiming that such a desire demonstrates a lack of historical understanding and would result in an ‘iconoclastic fury’ erasing both heroics and wrongs. On the other hand, supporters of the museum’s decision to provide more context on their namesake hoped it would be a step towards engaging critically with the Dutch slavery past. This case study explores the controversy’s media frenzy, its ties to the broader public discourse on Dutch colonial history, and its impact on the museum’s policies and programs.

For the case study click here.