Research Center for Material Culture

The Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC) is a flagship research institute within the Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam), Museum Volkenkunde (Leiden) and the Afrika Museum (Berg en Dal) that serves as a focal point for research on ethnographic collections in the Netherlands. We foster interdisciplinary research, focused on our internationally renowned collections, which comprise over 376.000 objects and almost 1.000.000 photographs cataloguing the diversity of world cultures. Our research projects and programs address the historical and contemporary meanings of these collections, the national and global histories of which they are a part, and the contemporary societal questions around issues of heritage, cultural identity and belonging that these objects raise.

Our Research

The RCMC is committed to research at the highest academic standard, while promoting the widest possible accessibility to the knowledge we generate. We strive to be a vibrant hub within national and international networks of research partners, fostering research collaborations with individuals and institutions. 

At the RCMC we:
  • foster innovation and critical approaches to understanding, interpreting and displaying our collections, and ethnographic collections more generally;
  • encourage the development of new strategies for their proper care and preservation;
  • contribute to the development of state-of-the-art approaches to engaging various local and international audiences through collections-based research and programming.
“Where objects come alive”
Academic Advisory Working Group

Our research agenda is steered by an Academic Advisory Working Group comprising leading scholars from different disciplines germane to the RCMC’s practice.

Drawn from the different national universities the Academic Advisory Working Group will ensure coordination between the RCMC´s research and teaching programs and the research agendas of other research institutions with relevant programs in the Netherlands.

  • Prof. Annelies Moors (University of Amsterdam)
  • Prof. Jeroen de Kloet (University of Amsterdam)
  • Prof. Susan Legêne (VU University Amsterdam)
  • Prof. Birgit Meyer (University of Utrecht)
  • Prof. Eric Venbrux (Radboud University Nijmegen)
  • Prof. Peter Jordan (University of Groningen)
Working with us

As a hub in a network of research partners, the RCMC is involved in a number of research projects both nationally and internationally. With these global collaborating partners and projects we are involved in ongoing research projects, exploring the meaning of our collections for originating communities and for our different stakeholders in the Netherlands. Currently we are involved in the following international research projects.