In the summer of 2008, the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam hosted the exhibition Black is beautiful: Rubens to Dumas. This was the first time that public attention was given to the appeal of black people to artists in the Low Countries. It seems that throughout the centuries many artists have portrayed black people, but very little attention was devoted to these figures. The exhibition changed that. After the end of the exhibition in October, IDTV Docs and De Nieuwe Kerk launched the website www.blackisbeautiful.nl (no longer available). On this website the exhibition, which caused quite a stir, can still be visited online.
In addition to the virtual exhibition, the Black is Beautiful Researchlab has been opened: an international, interactive research platform for anybody who is involved in researching the representation of black people in art.
The online Black is Beautiful Researchlab offers art historians, historians, students and others the possibility of gathering and sharing knowledge on this subject. Research into the portrayal of black people is a relatively unexplored field. The Black is Beautiful Researchlab wants to stimulate and facilitate this research by gathering knowledge from all over the world to, hopefully, arrive at a new set of questions and answers.
Among other things, the lab offers a (continually expanding) overview of ongoing studies, publications of interest, a list of online databases, a list of relevant links and a forum. The forum is intended as a platform for discussion and a place to make an appeal or present questions to a wider public.