On November 9, 2016 in Toronto, ON, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) issued the following statement at a reconciliation event with the Coalition for the Truth about Africa (CFTA), held at the Museum earlier this evening:
“The Royal Ontario Museum produced the exhibition Into the Heart of Africa, which opened at the Museum in November 1989. This exhibition was intended to critically examine the colonial relationships and premises through which collections from African societies had entered museums.The ROM statement was delivered by Dr. Mark Engstrom, the Museum’s Deputy Director, Collections and Research, who has guided the reconciliation process for the ROM, Josh Basseches, Director and CEO of the ROM, and Martha Durdin, Chair, ROM Board of Trustees. This statement was accepted by Rostant Ras Rico John, on behalf of the CFTA.
The exhibition displayed images and words that showed the fundamentally racist ideas and attitudes of early collectors and, in doing so, unintentionally reproduced the colonial, racist and Eurocentric premises through which these collections had been acquired. Thus, Into the Heart of Africa perpetuated an atmosphere of racism and the effect of the exhibition itself was racist. The ROM expresses its deep regret for having contributed to anti-African racism. The ROM also officially apologizes for the suffering endured by members of the African-Canadian community as a result of Into the Heart of Africa.”