Loot, International Symposium, Mauritshuis, The Hague, 16-17 November 2023

Events and Conferences
International Conferences

The Mauritshuis in The Hague, Netherlands, is organizing an international symposium on looted art on the 16th and 17th of November. The occasion is the exhibition 'Loot - 10 Stories,' which will take place at the Mauritshuis from September 14, 2023, to January 7, 2024, and will later travel to the Humboldt Forum in Berlin.

The symposium is a two-day conference held at the Mauritshuis, gathering approximately 100 - 120 (international) participants.

The language used in the symposium will be English

About looted art

Looted art is a phenomenon that spans throughout history. Booty was used as payment for soldiers, for the humiliation of the defeated, or as a demonstration of power. The majority of these objects were taken by Western Europeans during plundering raids and expeditions. For example, Napoleon bolstered his position by housing looted art treasures in his own Musée Napoléon (the Louvre). Hitler confiscated artworks for his Führermuseum, though it was never realized. In addition to these kind of outrageous projects, numerous objects from around the world were shipped to Europe by colonial powers over the past centuries.

This symposium will focus on the three periods addressed in the exhibition: colonial looted art, Nazi looted art, and Napoleonic looted art.


The first day will be characterized by short lectures from academics, museum professionals, and stakeholders. At the end of the afternoon, we will delve deeper into the concept of the exhibition through a question-and-answer session with the two guest curators. Following that, there will be an opportunity to visit the exhibition.

On the second day, we aim to engage in a constructive and future-oriented dialogue with all participants. Through breakout sessions, topics such as collaborating with communities, technological solutions, and the decolonization of museum collections will be addressed.

Creative Storytelling Studio Jongsma + O’Neill will be present on both days and will contribute on the topic of new storytelling technologies.

Day 1 - Lectures and Q&A

Location - Mauritshuis


09:00 - 09:30 uur

1. CATEGORIES OF LOOTED ART (09.45 – 11.00)

Introduction to the exhibition Loot-10 stories 
Martine Gosselink, General Director Mauritshuis & Sheila Reda, Junior Curator Mauritshuis

Looted art: a matter of justice?
Dr. Evelien Campfens, expert in cultural heritage law and post-doc fellow at Leiden University

(taboo of) Comparing principles of Colonial and Nazi Looted Art 
Gregor Langfeld, Professor History of Modern Art at Open University and University of Amsterdam, research groups Looted Art

Coffee / Tea
11.00 - 11.15


Tracing Looted Artworks within the Louvre Collection
Dr. Emanuelle Polack, Project Manager, Provenance at Musée du Louvre

Colonial looted art (t.b.c)
Dr. Klaas Stutje,Provenance researcher at NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

The Future of Colonial Cultural Property; Beyond Restitution
Dr. Naazima Kamardeen, Professor in the Department of Commercial Law at the University of Colombo

12.30 - 13.45

3. MUSEUMS' (FUTURE) PRACTICES (13.45 - 15.00)

Addressing provenance and restitution in a museum setting; several examples from European museums

Prof. Dr. Lars-Christian Koch, Director Ethnologisches Museum and Museum für Asiatische Kunst Berlin

Sofie Bouillon, Head of Exhibitions, Africa Museum Tervuren

Decolonizing African museums

Prof. Ciraj Rassool, Senior Professor at the University of the Western Cape

Coffee / Tea
15.00 - 15.15

4. ROLE OF NEW TECHNOLOGY (15.15 - 17.00)

Learning from Provenance Data
Prof. Dr. Lynn Rother, Lichtenberg-Professor for Provenance Studies and Director of the Provenance Lab at Leuphana University Lüneburg

Beyond restitution: the role of 3D technologies to facilitate an inclusive and co-creative way of engaging with ethical issues surrounding contested heritage. 
Liselore Tissen MA, lecturer and external PhD-candidate at LUCAS & Delft University of Technology at the faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering (3mE), Education & Research Manager (CLARIAH) & Face of Science at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

Making LOOT - 10 stories. Using human-scaled storytelling and immersive media to create a cross-disciplinary exhibition + Q&A
Jongsma + O'Neill are:Eline Jongsma, Founder, creative director and producer of immersive documentaries and AR/VR at Jongsma + O’Neill, creative lead and guest curator Loot-10 stories.Kel O’Neill, Founder, writer and director of immersive documentaries and AR/VR at Jongsma + O’Neill, creative lead and guest curator Loot-10 stories.

Visit to the exhibition and drinks
17.00 - 19.00

Day 2 - Future of loot: a constructive dialogue

Location: The Hague Conference Center - next to Den Haag CS

Plenary part (09.15 - 10.00)

Welcome and introduction
Martine Gosselink

Keynote speech 
Dr. Wayne Modest, Director of Content National Museum of World Cultures, Professor of Material Culture and Critical Heritage Studies (by special appointment) in the faculty of humanities at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam (VU)

Break-out sessions (2 rounds)

a. Depolarization of the public debate
Marit van Dijk MA (Coordinator Heritage Lab at Reinwardt Academie and social geographer) and Britt-Marie van der Drift MSc (Advisor and educator, specialized in trans-Atlantic slavery history and colonialism, Lecturer Cultural Heritage at the Reinwardt Academy)

b. Technological solutions: opportunities and challenges
Liselore Tissen and Kel O’Neill en Eline Jongsma

c. Provenance research and international cooperation
Dr. Alicia Schrikker (Senior University Lecturer and Director of Research at the Leiden University Institute for History, researcher PPROCE, member Colonial Collections Committee) and Dilip Tambyrajah (Board member Netherlands-Sri Lanka Foundation)

d. Decolonization of western collections: the blind spots

e. Heritage protection in wartime

Round 1
10.15 - 11.30

Round 2
11.45 - 13.00

Lunch and joint closing ceremony (13.00 – 15.00)
13.00 - 15.00


To buy tickets to the symposium, visit https://www.mauritshuis.nl/en/what-s-on/exhibitions/loot/symposium-loot/


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