The Tropenmuseum is one of Europe’s leading ethnographic museums, renowned for its collection. The permanent and temporary exhibitions display (art) objects, photographs, music and film from non-western cultures.

The beautiful and historic building in which the Tropenmuseum is housed provides space for eight permanent exhibitions and an ongoing series of temporary exhibitions, including both modern and traditional visual arts and photographic work. The permanent exhibitions are Southeast Asia, Oceania, Western Asia and North Africa, Africa, Latin America, Man and Environment and Music, Dance and Theater.

The reconstruction of local environments and attractive displays of exhibits drawn from the museum’s huge collections draw visitors right into the daily lives of the people of the tropics and subtropics. Exhibitions are increasingly seen as an opportunity to organize supplementary activities such as lectures, films, guided tours, music- and theatre shows, often in collaboration with other Institute departments.
The museum offers (family)activities on a weekly basis.

For some years now, the museum has been designing its exhibitions with a broad approach to both content and concept. The perspectives of different generations and different ethnic groups are represented in the exhibitions and activities. Leading public figures from the multicultural communities in the Netherlands assist in shaping and defining the museum.

Being part of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), the museum is more than just a museum. Experts assist museums around the world in capacity building and other activities, for example in collecting and preserving local cultural heritage. Other activities include innovative initiatives in the field of museums and of preserving and exhibiting cultural heritage. Take for instance the Museum Bus in the West African state of Benin: With the support of the Tropenmuseum and KIT Development, Policy & Practice, this project created a museum in a bus to reach people in remote areas.

Building on earlier work by the Getty Information Institute, the museum has started a project in fourteen developing countries aimed at cataloguing and describing museum collections using a computer programme. This contributes significantly to countering the theft of and illegal trade in art treasures.