In the period 1880 – 1931, the Netherlands made quite an impression at World Fairs. These fairs had become the scene of international competition. Participating countries used their colonies in an attempt to outdo each other.
The Netherlands stood an excellent chance of winning, especially with colonial presentations from the Netherlands East Indies. Entire temples and Javanese villages – inhabitants and all – were constructed on the grounds. The public gazed in amazement at the specimens of exotic humanity and the colonial merchandise, raw materials and objects.
Gradually a change came in the colonial story that the Netherlands wanted to tell. The Netherlands became more and more interested in presenting itself as a bearer of progress.