Cape Coast Castle is one of around forty ‘slave castles’ built by European traders on the coast of West Africa and used to hold enslaved Africans prior to their being transported to the Americas or the Caribbean. The first timber construction on the site was erected in 1653 for the Swedish Africa Company named Carolusborg. It was later rebuilt in stone. In April 1663 the ‘Swedish Gold Coast’ was seized by the Danes and integrated into the ‘Danish Gold Coast’. In 1664 it was conquered by the British. Originally used for trade in timber and gold, the castle was later used in the transatlantic slave trade. In the late 18th century it was rebuilt and used as the seat of the colonial Government of the British Gold Coast in 1844. In 1957, when Ghana became independent, the site came under the care of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, and was restored for public access in the 1990s. The museum offers guided tours, as well as permitting tours orchestrated by freelance tour guides. There is also a library and a gift shop, featuring traditional Ghanaian arts and crafts, on site.
The main aim of the museum is to act as a monument to those taken from Africa and enslaved into the system of Transatlantic Slavery. It features both archaeological and ethnographic collections on displays, within the rooms of the castle. Throughout, there are also a number of contemporary sculptures depicting the heads of victims of the slave trade. Visitors tour through the castle, encountering the rooms in which the enslaved were held, with guides providing further information about the conditions and experiences those thousands of Africans faced.
The Tropenmuseum of World Cultures (direct translation; Museum of the Tropics) is an ethnographic museum, founded in 1864. Housed in one of the 'most impressive buildings in Amsterdam', the museum features eight permanent exhibitions and a series of temporary exhibitions. The key theme of the museum is people, with all of the exhibitions making use of the museum's vast collections of over 150,000 objects, paintings and photographs, to showcase universal human themes, including celebration, mourning and conflict.
In the 'Afterlives of Slavery' exhibition, visitors are confronted with the legacies of slavery and colonialism in contemporary Dutch society. Developed in collaboration with scientists, artists and activists, the exhibition tells the history of slavery with the experiences of the enslaved, and their descendants, at its heart. Video portraits provide the perspectives of four key figures in the contemporary debates about colonial legacies for Dutch black people.
The key link between past and present here is the continuation of inequality and prejudice. Collections, both historic and contemporary, highlight this, as well as illustrating how times have changed. These include testamonies of enslaved people, books, portraits, 'relics of slavery' and examples of African art.