Two worlds in one wreck
Fragments from a colonial past
In 2001, just outside of the harbour of Oudeschild (Texel), the nets of shrimp boat Emmie caught a mysterious wooden chest, thickly covered with barnacles. The fishermen opened the lid and saw piles of long iron knives with wooden handles. The wreck the chest came from was discovered soon afterwards by recreational divers. This wreck turned out to be a plantation ship that in 1822 was sailing to the Dutch plantations of South America but became stranded and sank near Texel.
The exhibition highlights the stark and heart-breaking contrast between the hard work on the land and the rich life of the colonial mansions. The collection endorses this contrast. Cleavers, machetes, hooks and shovels for use on the plantations lay between boxes full of richly decorated tableware, pipes and ornamental fittings for the luxurious life of the plantation owners. Contrary to what you would expect, the story in the exhibition starts with the slavery of the past and we do not go under water until the end.
In order to tell this difficult story carefully but honestly, the exhibition includes special places for children. Through educational games and insightful animations, we convey the seriousness of the situation without scaring them needlessly.
At the end of the exhibition we go under water. Visitors get to see how these items that tell the story of our colonial past, remained preserved for years in a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea.