Curator Greek and Roman antiquities

Professor Ruurd B. Halbertsma
tel: +31 (0)71 516 3154

Educational background and special fields of interest

Ruurd Halbertsma (b. 1958) studied Classical Languages, Ancient History, and Classical Archaeology at the University of Leiden. He performed fieldwork in Italy and led excursions to Greece, Turkey, Italy and Tunisia. As a student he had become interested in the history of archaeological collecting in Europe and the Netherlands’ specific role in it. This interest culminated in a PhD thesis on the origin of the 19th-century collections of Punic, Etruscan, and Egyptian art in the Netherlands: ‘Le solitaire des ruines: the archaeological journeys of Jean Emile Humbert (1771–1839) in the service of the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ (Leiden, 1995). He has published articles and monographs, and has lectured on topics in his field of interest at universities in Copenhagen and Paris, as well as at the American universities of Yale and Harvard.

Teaching activities

Apart from his curatorial tasks at the museum Ruurd Halbertsma was attached to the Faculty of Archaeology as an endowed professor between 2010 and 2018. Currently he teaches Classical Archaeology at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) for students in Classical Languages and Art History.

Recent congresses and exhibitions

In 2015 and 2018 Halbertsma organised international congresses and seminars on the vase collection of Lucien Bonaparte (1775-1840) and the archaeological travels of the Flemish Colonel Bernard Rottiers (1771-1857, together with the University of Ghent). His exhibitions are currently focused on the interaction between ancient cultures in the Mediterranean basin, their mutual contacts and confrontations. A good example was the exhibition Cyprus – A Dynamic Island (2019-2020). He is preparing the project The Bay of Naples – Crucible of Cultures, which will open in 2024.

Areas of expertise

  • The material culture of Greece, Etruria and the Roman Empire
  • The history of archaeological collecting
  • Museum studies

Key research projects

The 19th century as the cradle of modern archaeology: the history of Dutch archaeology is largely the history of the National Museum of Antiquities for the entire 19th century. An attempt is made to present an overview of the most significant developments in this period that led to the accumulation of large archaeological collections and that generated ideas concerning the ideal way in which to display collections relating to antiquity.

Ruurd Halbertsma

Representative publications

  • Le solitaire des ruines – de archeologische reizen van Jean Emile Humbert (1771-1839) in dienst van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden (Leiden, 1995)
  • Etruskische Cultuur (Amsterdam, 1991)
  • Brons uit de Oudheid (Amsterdam, 1992, in samenwerking met P. Akkermans, M.J. Raven en M. Brouwer)
  • Beeldhouwkunst uit Hellas en Rome (Amsterdam, 1996)
  • Scholars, Travellers and Trade – The Pioneer Years of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, 1818-1840 (London/New York, 2003)
  • Schitterend Glas uit Egypte, Griekenland en Rome (Zwolle, 2006)
  • From Distant Shores: Nineteenth-Century Dutch Archaeology in European Perspective, in: Schlanger, N./Nordbladh, J. (eds.), Archives, Ancestors, Practices – Archaeology in the Light of its History, (New York/Oxford, 2008)
  • Ancient Glass and Various Antiquities in the Frits Lugt Collection, Paris (88 pp., edition Fondation Custodia, 2010)
  • De schatvondst van Nistelrode – Romeinse luxe in het Bataafse land (met Richard Jansen), 52 pp., Leiden, uitg. Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, 2010
  • Sisi en Wilhelm II – Keizers op Corfu (met M.E. Halbertsma en L. Ruitenberg), 30 pp., Leiden , uitg. Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, 2011

Representative exhibitions

  • Ancient Art: Greece, Etruria and Rome (Tokyo/Leiden, 1989-1990)
  • Once Freud’s – the archaeological collection of Dr. Sigmund Freud (1994)
  • A world of wine – wine in classical antiquity (1996)
  • Reorganisation of the departments for Greece, Etruria, Roman Empire and Netherlands Provincial-Roman Archaeology (1999-2001)
  • Asterix and Europe (2001)
  • Brilliant Glass (2006)
  • Brilliant Bijoux (2007, in cooperation with P. Akkermans, A. Willemsen and M.J. Raven)
  • Models of Beauty, masterpieces in plaster (2008)
  • At first sight: antiquities of Frits Lugt and Helene Kröller-Müller (2010)
  • Sisi and Wilhelm II – Emperors on Corfu (2011)
  • Reorganisation of the departments for Greece, Etruria, Roman Empire (2015)
  • Reorganisation of the department for Netherlands Provincial-Roman Archaeology (2018)