Museum in Netherlands Gets Rid of ‘Offensive’ Artwork Titles

© AP Photo / Peter DejongNetherlands Rijksmuseum
Netherlands Rijksmuseum - Sputnik International
The State Museum of the Netherlands is renaming some works of art it exhibits for the sake of political correctness. Titles of more over hundred paintings have been changed to prevent visitors from being offended.

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​The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has begun to implement a plan it proposed a while ago to remove racially offensive language from some artwork titles. Several XVII century paintings are on the censor list.

“N servant” from the portrait of Margaretha van Raephorst was changed to “Young black servant;” “Young n girl” became a “Young Girl holding a fan” — these are just a few examples of paintings whose names no longer include potentially racially offensive or politically incorrect words or phrases. The original titles were replaced with more neutral descriptions within a framework of a project called “Adjustment of colonial terminology.”

“There are about one million artworks in our catalogue, and some of their titles and descriptions are severely outdated,” the head of the historical Department of the Museum, Martin Gosselink, told RT, adding that, “we figured that using them now would be inappropriate and that a certain group of people would feel uncomfortable using our website. We are not trying to rewrite history. We don’t try to whitewash the past. Original descriptions will stay in catalogues, we only changed the main descriptions.”

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This is not the first such move by institutions in the Netherlands. In August 2015 UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that the country celebrate Christmas without the prankish Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), the blackface helper of Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa), who gives presents to children. Earlier this year the UN committee described the character as “discriminatory” and a throwback to slavery. Zwarte Piet first appeared in Dutch folklore in 1850, but he is now considered “inappropriate.” The decision gave rise to fierce debates, as not everyone supports the initiative.

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