Head of Collections and Research Department

Pieter ter Keurs (photos: Rob Overmeer)Pieter ter Keurs (photos: Rob Overmeer)

Prof. dr. Pieter ter Keurs

Head of Collections and Research Department

phone: +31 (0)71 5163 130
e-mail: stuur een e-mail

Pieter ter Keurs (b. 1956) studied cultural anthropology at Leiden University. His doctoral thesis was a theoretical study of material culture. He was previously employed as a curator at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, where his activities included cooperation with Indonesian institutions such as the National Museum in Jakarta. Ter Keurs conducted fieldwork in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Since March 2009, he has been on the staff of the National Museum of Antiquities, where he is responsible for collection management and research. In 2014/15, Ter Keurs was also responsible for the content of the Carthage exhibition and for cooperation with Tunisia.

Endowed professor at Leiden University

Ter Keurs also holds the endowed chair in the Anthropology of Material Culture at Leiden University's Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, where he teaches subjects including material culture and heritage. Alongside theoretical research, his interests include the critical analysis of collections, museums, and museum history.


On the website of the faculty of cultural anthropology of the Leiden University, Pieter ter Keurs has a blog.


  • Cultural heritage, theory and policy
  • Collection history
  • Theory of material culture

Most important projects

  • Exhibition The Discovery of the Past (2005), at 'De Nieuwe Kerk' church in Amsterdam
  • Exhibition Au nord de Sumatra. Les Batak (2008), at Musée du quai Branly in Paris
  • Cooperation with the National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta
  • History of the National Museum of Antiquities, in a broad geographical, historical and critical framework
  • Material Agency Forum (MAF), with prof. dr. Caroline van Eck and dr. Miguel John Versluys
  • Exhibition Carthage (2014/15), at the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden

Representative publications

  • De Ontdekking van het Verleden (ed. with Endang Sri Hardiati), 2005. Amsterdam: KIT Publications
  • Condensed reality: Study in Material Culture, 2006. Leiden, CNWS Publications
  • Colonial Collections Revisited (red.), 2007. Leiden: CNWS Publications
  • Museums between Enlightenment and Romanticism. Early nineteenth century roots and modern practices. UMAC Journal, 2010, 11-20
  • Agency, prestige and politics: Dutch collecting abroad and local responses. In: Byrne, S., Clarke, A., Harrison, R., Torrence, R. (Eds.), Unpacking the Collection: Networks of Material and Social Agency in the Museum, 2011, New York: Springer
  • Materiële cultuur en Vergankelijkheid. Inaugural address, 2011. Leiden: Leiden University
  • Entanglement: Reflections on People and Objects. In: T. Bampilis and P. ter Keurs (eds.), Social Matter(s). Anthropological Approaches to Materiality, 2014, Zürich, Berlin: LIT Verlag, 45-60
  • Carthago. Opkomst en ondergang. Roald Docter, Ridha Boussoffara ann Pieter ter Keurs (red.), 2014, Zutphen: Walburg Pers/Leiden: Rijksmuseum van Oudheden
  • Carthage. Fact and myth. Roald Docter, Ridha Boussoffara and Pieter ter Keurs (eds.), 2015, Leiden: Sidestone Press/Rijksmuseum van Oudheden. English version of Carthago. Opkomst en Ondergang