200 years a museum 'for now'

25 April until 2 September 2018

Exhibition 'For 200 years a museum 'for now''Exhibition 'For 200 years a museum 'for now''
Classical statues in an exhibition room in 1930Classical statues in an exhibition room in 1930

This major retrospective reviews the 200 years of the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO), which was founded in 1818. As you stroll through two centuries of museum history, you will hear surprising stories and see over 600 objects that have played a key role in that history.

Two hundred years of the RMO: 1818-2018

The exhibition provides fascinating glimpses of the changes that have taken place between 1818 and 2018 and the ways in which the museum responded to those changes. The story is structured around a mix of objects from the RMO’s own collection and objects that have been transferred to other museums in the course of time. This latter category includes Javanese statues, Peruvian pottery, and sculptures from the treasury of the basilica of St Servatius in Maastricht. Especially for this jubilee exhibition, they are returning temporarily to the National Museum of Antiquities.

Unknown gems and old friends

The selection from the RMO’s own collection include numerous objects from the depot that have never been displayed in the museum before, such as copies of Danish runestones and a 16th-century 'Roman' statue of Venus. But it also features the prehistoric Ommerschans Sword, which was only acquired in 2017, and the diploma of the museum’s first director, Caspar Reuvens (1793–1835).

Remarkable events and developments

The jubilee exhibition will also dwell on remarkable events and developments. You can follow the first archaeological excavations in the Netherlands (carried out by this museum in 1827) and listen to stories about the operation in which most of the collection was moved to safety in the dunes during the Second World War. You can also laugh at the famous April Fool’s joke of 1993, about the mummy whose heart had started beating again.


The National Museum of Antiquities was founded in 1818 by King Willem I, as a national centre in which to collect archaeological and art treasures of ancient, 'extinct' cultures and to show them to the public. When it opened, 200 years ago, its entire collection consisted of just 150 Greek and Roman statues. Today, this lively museum also serves as a platform for antiquity, with a rich, multi-faceted collection, welcoming 200,000 visitors each year.