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30 Prinsessegracht
Den Haag, ZH, 2514 AP
Netherlands

Museum Meermanno | Huis van het boek (vroeger Meermanno-Westreenianum) is het oudste boekenmuseum ter wereld. Het is gevestigd in het voormalige woonhuis van de stichter van het museum Willem Hendrik Jacob baron van Westreenen van Tiellandt (1783-1848) aan de Prinsessegracht in Den Haag en richt zich op het geschreven en gedrukte boek in al zijn vormen, in heden en verleden. De ontwikkeling van de vormgeving van zowel oude als moderne boeken staat daarbij centraal.

Offensive books

George van Aalst,  Het Kerstjoodje , Uitgeverij W. Kirchner, Amsterdam 1924

George van Aalst, Het Kerstjoodje, Uitgeverij W. Kirchner, Amsterdam 1924

Hans Graf von Monts,  De Joden in Nederland , Uitgave Reichskommisariat, 1941

Hans Graf von Monts, De Joden in Nederland, Uitgave Reichskommisariat, 1941

Harriet Beecher-Stowe, opnieuw verteld door Elise de Graaf, D e negerhut van oom Tom , zonder jaar (c. 1910), zonder plaats, zonder uitgever.

Harriet Beecher-Stowe, opnieuw verteld door Elise de Graaf, De negerhut van oom Tom, zonder jaar (c. 1910), zonder plaats, zonder uitgever.

Willy Schermelé,  Het Groote Negerboek,  1932

Willy Schermelé, Het Groote Negerboek, 1932

Exhibition ‘Offensive books?’

The House of the Book presents ‘Offensive books?’

On view from 20 October 2019 until 1 March 2020

The House of the Book will present the exhibition ‘Offensive books?’ from 20 October 2019 until 1 March 2020. The exhibition is about books which have fallen out of favour or, have become taboo because of a changing Zeitgeist and more progressive perceptions. Who today would read Oki en Doki bij de negers, or Kuifje in Afrika to their children? The same applies to books in which Jewish children or ‘heathens’ in Africa are converted to Christianity. Attention is also given to political propaganda during World War II, much of which was in the form of children’s books. They are mainly books which were printed and distributed in large numbers and, which consciously or unconsciously, influenced readers’ ideas about their fellow human beings. These ‘offensive’ books sometimes touch on surprisingly contemporary themes, such as racism, sexism and anti-Semitism.

The Netherlands has traditionally been regarded as a progressive, liberal and tolerant country in which freedom of expression and a free press are guaranteed in the constitution. In the exhibition ‘Offensive books?’, the viewer will get an impression of the impact of books via the themes politics, religion and society. How will looking at these books affect visitors when they see various examples put into context with video clips, posters and newspaper articles? With this interactive exhibition, the House of the Book wants to explore how people today think about these books which for a long time formed, and sometimes still form, our identity and our ideas. Do visitors support freedom of expression and a free press or do they think that things have gone too far and that boundaries need to be set?

At Lowlands

A foretaste of the exhibition ‘Offensive books?’ can be experienced this summer at Lowlands (16-18 August). Just like last year the House of the Book will make an appearance on the Ohlalalaantje. In the Banned Books Club visitors will become involved in the same way they do in the exhibition. Examples of forbidden books forbidden in totalitarian regimes will be shown, such as Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and various editions of Nabovkov’s Lolita. Why forbidden, why unacceptable? It’s up to the visitor to decide.

This is an exhibition of The House of the Book, a collaborative initiative of the KB, National Library of the Netherlands and Museum Meermanno.


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