In the period of 1818-1824, the Society of Benevolence created five colonies in the Netherlands (Frederiksoord, Wilhelminaoord, Ommerschans, Willemsoord, Veenhuizen) and two in Belgium (Wortel and Merksplas).
The story of these Colonies of Benevolence opens up like a magical world of edification and punishment, cultivation and wilderness, isolated communities and the continuing task of social integration, economic development, and preservation of identity and special qualities. To this day, the dimensions of the Society of Benevolence remain unbelievable. The way in which Johannes van den Bosch gave shape to the social, financial and spatial economic model behind the Colonies invites extreme curiosity as to his intellectual and moral frame of mind.
In setting up the world heritage nomination dossier in respect of the Colonies of Benevolence, SteenhuisMeurs is collaborating with Karvansera in Belgium on substantiating the Declaration of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and the Statements of Authenticity and Integrity. A number of questions must be answered, for example as to the legacy of the Colonies and their later development history for the present and for the future.
Eventually, the immaterial significance of the Colonies (the story) will have to be linked to a diffuse, eroded and partially reconstructed material reality (the locations). In addition, it will have to be made clear which components should be specifically retained in the context of this nomination.