Photographs of the Netherlands East Indies at the Tropenmuseum offers a comprehensive introduction to one of the most important collections of colonial photography in the world. There is no other collection at the Tropenmuseum that is so closely tied to the history of the institute itself. Photographs were already being collected in the late 19th century and have been continuously supplemented with new images to create the broadest possible perspective of topical developments in the Netherlands East Indies. After Indonesia declared its independence in 1945, the importance of the collection of historic photographs declined and it was consigned to obscurity. Interest in the collection blossomed again later when a large group of people in the Netherlands came to view them as reflecting a lost and increasingly romanticised world. From the 1980s the collection became a source of historical information and the subject of wide-scale academic research. This publication provides insight into how attitudes toward the collection have changed over the past 150 years and the various ways in which they have been used by the Tropenmuseum and its predecessors.