Musical automata – luxurious nineteenth-century consumer objects – sometimes mirrored colonial claims of ownership over the bodies of people of colour, depicting racialised humanoid figures. Many such objects now reside in museums. Recent decolonial movements have also reached these collections; Museum Speelklok in Utrecht is one example. Their approach to decolonization contrasts with the Victoria and Albert Museum’s treatment of the automaton Tippoo’s Tiger, and with the Les Gets Mechanical Music Museum. We contrast the Les Gets and V&A with the Museum Speelklok, considering how a museum’s assemblage of affective presentation and institutional and local factors interact during decolonization efforts. While the V&A and Museum Speelklok are both located centrally in major cities and aim for general audiences, the Les Gets is situated in a small village, catering to special interest groups. However, affectively the V&A evokes solemn imperial grandiosity, while Museum Speelklok and the Lets Gets evoke nostalgia, play and delight. Contemporary interpretations of racialised automata in these museums are influenced by national discourses about colonialism, social and governmental pressures, and also differing sizes, settings, and affective goals. This paper contrasts the Les Gets and V&A with Museum Speelklok, considering how a museum’s affective presentation interacts with decolonization efforts. Museum Speelklok has explicitly introduced new descriptors alongside existing displays, aiming to tell “the other side of the story”. In a space reliant on positive affect, the introduction of serious elements – attempting to contextualize the problematic objects on display – is striking. The mnemonic process is inherently affective, which is reflected in mnemonic spaces and thus also in their decolonization. These examples illustrate that a willingness to relinquish positive affect – whether childish glee or colonial pride – is crucial in effectively addressing the postcolonial problem, but may be impeded by factors such as prestige and proximity to remaining colonial power.