Who Is an Expat? New Exhibition Opens Today

26 October 2015

For years, The Hague has been the home of expatriates from many different countries. These international residents bring their own cultures and perspectives to The Hague, while at the same time learning to live as integral parts of their new home. To honour this unique part of the history and culture of The Hague, our new exhibition, ‘Expat Impressions of The Hague’ opened today in The Hague City Hall. The exhibition, which has been over a year in the making, explores the expatriate experience in The Hague, drawing on letters, journals, photographs, and other primary source materials documenting their observations about their adopted city during the past several decades.


But who is an expatriate? ‘Expatriate’ has sometimes been used as a narrow term that encompasses only a certain class of people who are transferred to another country by large multinational companies and live stereotypically privileged lives in the infamous ‘expat bubble’, reserving terms like ‘internationals’, ‘migrants’, or ‘knowledge migrants’ for other groups. However, in a post-colonial world where globalisation happens in all directions, old distinctions like these are both outdated and objectionable. For the Expatriate Archive Centre (EAC), one of the organisers of the new exhibition, the term ‘expatriate’ includes ‘anyone who lives temporarily in a country other than their “home” country’.

The Expatriates Represented in the Exhibition

As ‘the international city of peace and justice’, The Hague is host to expatriates with many different stories. The exhibition contains representations from the diplomatic community, expatriates in the fields of non-governmental initiatives and multi-lateral governance, and students, as well as those who have come to work, along with their partners. Whether these expatriates have lived in The Hague for one year or ten or more, they have recorded their impressions and left their mark on the city that has welcomed them in. Visitors to the exhibition will gain a better understanding of what it is like to live in The Hague as an expatriate, and see the city through fresh eyes.

The EAC, which preserves primary source materials documenting the expatriate experience, has two other partners that have assisted in preparing the exhibition: The Hague Municipal Archives and ACCESS, a non-profit that provides practical information, support, and services to expatriates in the Netherlands. Sponsors include Shell, The Hague Bridge, CB&I, Rabobank, the American Women’s Club of The Hague, and Petroleum Women’s Club The Hague.

When and Where

The exhibition is presented in both English and Dutch. It is free, and will run from 26 October to 14 November 2015 in the Atrium of the City Hall in The Hague. Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:00 to 19:00, Thursday from 7:00 to 21:30, and Saturday from 9:30 to 17:00. The mayor will officially inaugurate the exhibition at an invitation-only reception to be held on 4 November. For more information, contact The Expatriate Archive Centre at (0)70 427 2014 or pr@xpatarchive.com.