Between two worlds
Wim Millenaar, family photographer

March 18, 2017 – June 5, 2017 This exhibition has ended
In 1906 Willem Millenaar (Amsterdam, 1887-1955) sailed for Java as a sergeant with the Dutch colonial troops. He married the Javanese Elisabeth Loen and recorded his life story with a camera in no less than 7,777 family snapshots. In 1932 Millenaar returned to the Netherlands with his wife and six children. His photographs offer a fascinating glimpse of the ups and downs of a family that – like so many others – lived between two cultures.

The Millenaar family grew up in a partly Dutch culture in Indonesia, but when they arrived in the Netherlands it took them some time to adapt to their new home. The cultural differences and the climate meant a major readjustment. Less than a year after their arrival the eldest son of the family met with a fatal accident. This tragic event provoked strong emotions connected with the move. After the outbreak of World War II, Millenaar’s sons served under the Dutch flag. When the Indonesian struggle for independence from the Netherlands began in the postwar years, their life between two worlds was put to the test.

The exhibition presents an intimate portrait focused on life between different cultures. Wim Millenaar was very careful to record his personal history in order to be able to share his period in the former Dutch East Indies with his family in the Netherlands – from everyday life in the Dutch colony and the celebration of St Nicholas there down to Millenaar’s life working for Conimex in the Netherlands. Practically all the negatives of the thousands of photographs that he took over a period of more than forty years are of excellent quality. They read like a diary of a bygone era.

Familie Millenaar net aan boord op de Marnix St. Aldegonde, Sabang, 1932.jpg
Familie Millenaar net aan boord op de Marnix van St. Aldegonde, Sabang, 1932
Wim Millenaar net in dienst, Kampen, 1903.jpg
Wim Millenaar net in dienst, Kampen, 1903
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