The world of the Dutch East India Company

The world of the Dutch East India Company exhibition runs in the National Archives of The Netherlands until the 24th of June 2018. This exhibition marks the digitisation of the archives of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). 

The VOC archives are spread across various countries around the world and a large portion is preserved in the National Archives. They contain a wealth of information and have served as a unique source for research for many years. The National Archives brings this remarkable material together for the first time in a single exhibition. Visitors are taken on a voyage past two hundred years of history of unique maps, ships' logs, letters and drawings.

World Heritage

The National Archives preserves 1.2 km of VOC archives. But VOC archives can also be found in Jakarta, Cape Town, Colombo and Chennai. The more than 25 million pages of information form a major source of 17th and 18th century history for dozens of countries in Asia and southern Africa. It is for this reason that the complete VOC archives were added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2003.

The first ever multinational company

The VOC is a household name in The Netherlands and beyond, but besides arousing a sense of pride it also evokes negative emotions when it comes to acknowledging slavery and oppression. In contrast to the success story of what has been called the world's first ever multinational company, there are also stories of looting, violence, heinous acts and oppression.

Personal stories

The exhibition uses personal stories to bring the VOC era to life. Dutch writers Nelleke Noordervliet and Ramsey Nasr put themselves in the shoes of such figures as a governor-general, a major shareholder, a church minister and a merchant. They show that history is interwoven with the present and may sometimes even be surprisingly current. During the VOC era the new market in shares was manipulated, and to this day there are still debates on the power of the financial sector. Joris Luyendijk will discuss these historical parallels during the exhibition.

Nationaal Archief

The National Archives of the Netherlands houses and presents Dutch History. Its rich collection comprises 137 kilometers of records, 15 million photographs, about 300.000 maps and drawings and 440 terabytes of digital footage.

Visitor information

Nationaal Archief
Prins Willem-Alexanderhof 20, 2595 BE The Hague, The Netherlands

The world of the Dutch East India Company
24.02.2017 till 24.06.2018

The world of the Dutch East India Company