On 17 May, Sophie and I welcomed Aaina Women’s Group and some of the Community Ambassadors to the UCL Art Museum for a workshop on the history of the Dutch East India Company and the seventeenth-century Netherlands. We had a close-up look at a range of etchings from the UCL Art Museum – displayed for the day by curator Andrea Fredericksen. These etchings were a starting point for discussion and reflection. Questions that came up were (for example): why would someone sign up to leave on a Dutch East India Company ship? And: who would come along and would return on the ships? Besides that, we got to know some very curious animals!
UCL Special Collections is part of the UCL Library, and deals with rare books and old manuscripts. Tabitha Tuckett and Gill Furlong from Special Collections were at the workshop to help out when the participants were handling the fragile books they had brought along. We saw an official letter from 1674 with old hand writing and the seal of the Dutch Stadholder William III (who later became King of England). There was also a beautiful book in Hebrew: a Humash, the first five books of the Jewish Torah. This book showed the diversity of Amsterdam at the time, which was a real migrants’ town in the seventeenth century. Additionally, we looked at an exciting and beautiful multilingual map depicting Asia, from a rare book by Gotfried Hensel from 1741, showing the diversity of languages across this vast continent.
Thank you for your input and thoughts during this fun workshop!