Curator Greece and Rome collections

Dr. Ruurd Halbertsma
Phone number: +31 (0)71 5163 154
E-mail: send a message
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Study and career

Ruurd Halbertsma (1958) studied Classical Languages, Ancient History and Classical Archaeology at Leiden University. He did fieldwork in Italy and led excursions to Greece, Turkey, Italy and Tunisia. During his studies, he became interested in the history of archaeological collection building in Europe and in particular the role played by the Netherlands. This interest resulted in his dissertation on the provenance of the nineteenth-century collections of Punic, Etruscan and Egyptian art in the Netherlands: Le solitaire des ruines (1995).

In 1988, he was appointed Curator of Greece and Rome at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities. In this function, he created several exhibitions, published in national and international scientific journals and organised conferences and symposia. In addition to his appointment as curator, Ruurd Halbertsma was also professor by special appointment at the Faculty of Archaeology of Leiden University between 2010 and 2018. Currently, he is a staff member of the department of Greek and Latin Language and Culture and of the Art History department of Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS).


Halbertsma’s research focuses on the nineteenth century as the cradle of modern archaeology, in addition to the classical archaeological fields: the history of Dutch archaeology is linked to the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities for the entire nineteenth century. And this history is closely linked to the cultural developments in 19th century Europe. Unravelling the links between the European archaeological collections leads to new insights about the role that the Netherlands played in this period. The emergence of the Leiden collections of Greek pottery, Punic antiquities and Etruscan cinerary urn and bronzes is linked to the activities of other museums and researchers in the 19th century. Halbertsma’s research has also been the inspiration for two books of poetry and a novel by his hand.

Ask me a question about

  • Archaeology of Ancient Greece, North Africa, Etruria and the Roman Empire
  • Authenticity of Greek and Roman artefacts
  • Greco-Roman mythology
  • History of European archaeology
  • Museological issues
  • Discussions on looted art and property rights

Important research projects

  • CANCONNECT – The Canino Connections (2015-present, in collaboration with various European museums)
  • HUMBORG – Humbertiana & Borgiana in internationaal perspectief (2010-present, in collaboration with het Nationalmuseet Kopenhagen and the Institut du Patrimoine, Tunis)
Ruurd Halbertsma

Ruurd Halbertsma

Important publications

  • Halbertsma, R.B., 2021. Framing King Memnon – Some Thoughts on a Campanian Amphora in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, BABESCH 96, 71-82
  • Halbertsma, R.B. and D. Pilides (red.), 2019. Cyprus – A Dynamic Island. Leiden: Sidestone Press
  • Halbertsma, R.B., 2019, Count Camillo Borgia (1773-1817): an officer and antiquarian, in: L.-J. Manfredi, A. Mezzolani Andreose, and S. Festuccia (red.), Gli Italiani e le antichità Fenicie e Puniche del Maghreb tra XVIII e XX secolo – archivi, viaggi e collezioni (Mediterraneo Punico – Supplementi alla Rivista di Studi Fenici), Roma, 53-65
  • Halbertsma, R.B., 2017. The Netherlands and Tunisia: archaeological investigations in the 19th century, in: H. Dridi en A. Mezzolani Andreose (red.), Under Western Eyes – Approches occidentales de l’archéologie nord-africaine (XIXe-XXe siècles), Bologna, 49-65
  • Halbertsma, R.B., 2017. “Admirari vel deridere” – Calvinistic Approaches to Classical Sculpture in the Netherlands, in: Caroline van Eck (red.), Idols and Museum Pieces – The Nature of Sculpture, its Historiography and Exhibition History 1640-1880 (École du Louvre) (Studien aus dem Warburg-Haus 17), 103-114
  • Halbertsma, R.B. (red.), 2017. The Canino Connections – The History and Restoration of Ancient Greek Vases from the Excavations of Lucien Bonaparte, Prince of Canino (1771-1840) (PALMA 16), Leiden: Sidestone Press.
  • Halbertsma, R.B., 2015. Nulli tam laeti triumphi – Constantine’s victory on a reworked cameo in Leiden, BABESCH 90, 221-235
  • Halbertsma, R.B., 2014. Greek Vases in the Low Countries. An Assessment of Collecting Policies, in: S. Schmidt and M. Steinhart (red.), Sammeln und Erforschen – Griechische Vasen in neuzeitlichen Sammlungen (Beihefte zum Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum Band VI), München, 73-83
  • Halbertsma, R.B., 2010. Ancient Glass and Various Antiquities in the Frits Lugt Collection, Paris: Fondation Custodia
  • Halbertsma, R.B., 2008. From Distant Shores – Nineteenth-Century Dutch Archaeology in European Perspective, in: N. Schlanger and J. Nordbladh (red.), Archives, Ancestors, Practices – Archaeology in the Light of its History, Oxford/New York, 21-35
  • Cordfunke, E.H.P., M. Eickhoff, R.B. Halbertsma, P.H.D. Leupen and H. Sarfatij (red.), 2007. ‘Loffelijke verdiensten der archeologie’ – C.J.C. Reuvens als grondlegger van de moderne Nederlandse archeologie, Hilversum: Verloren
  • Halbertsma, R.B., 2006. ‘Wel bestuurde gravingen.’ C.J.C. Reuvens en de eerste wetenschappelijke opgravingen, in: W. de Jonge, J. Bazelmans and D. de Jager (red.), Forum Hadriani – van Romeinse stad tot monument, Utrecht, 217-233
  • Halbertsma, R.B., 2003. Scholars, Travellers and Trade – The Pioneer Years of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, 1818-1840, Londen-New York: Routledge
  • Halbertsma, R.B., 2003. ‘An ornament of the mind’ – C.J.C. Reuvens and his ideas about the benefits of archaeology to art and society in the Netherlands, in: J. Fejfer, T. Fischer-Hansen and A. Rathje (red.), The Rediscovery of Antiquity – The Role of the Artist (Acta Hyperborea 10), 211-227
  • Halbertsma, R.B., 1995. Le solitaire des ruines – de archeologische reizen van Jean Emile Humbert (1771-1839) in dienst van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden (Collections of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden IX), Leiden
Ruurd Halbertsma

Ruurd Halbertsma

Important exhibitions

Important lectures and conferences

  • 2021, Creating Antiquity: From ‘Archaeological Cabinet’ to a National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, 1818-1840, Universiteit Wroclaw.
  • 2018, Vazen en vulkanen – Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803), ambassadeur, geleerde, wetenschapper. De Hermitage, Amsterdam.
  • 2018, ‘Een verrukkende heidense schoonheid’ – De antieke beeldhouwkunst als droom en doem. Houtrustkerk, Den Haag.
  • 2018, De Laudibus Archaeologiae – Caspar J.C. Reuvens (1793-1835) als classicus en archeoloog.
  • Opening Academisch Jaar GLTC, Universiteit Leiden.
  • 2018, ‘Een brandpunt van geleerdheid’ – de oprichting van het Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in 1818.
  • P.J. Bloklezing, Leiden.
  • 2018, The Shadow of Reuvens – The Legacies of a Pioneer. Conference Future Archaeologies, Universiteit Leiden.
  • 2015, Refurbishing the ancient world: the new classical galleries in the Leiden National Museum of Antiquities. Universität Augsburg.
  • 2015, Le temps des pionniers : à la découverte du Musée Archéologique de Leyde. Festival de l’histoire de l’art, Fontainebleau.
  • 2015, De triomf van Constantijn. Nieuw licht op de Rubenscamee. De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam.
  • 2014, Admiration and Indignation: Calvinistic Approaches to Classical Sculpture in the Netherlands. École du Louvre, Parijs.
  • 2013, The Travellers’ Passion – Early Archaeological Documentation of Tunisia. Université Aix-Marseille.
  • 2012, The Netherlands and Tunisia: archaeological exploration in the 19th century. Université de Neuchâtel.
  • 2010, Museums and Archaeology – Dilemmas of Presenting the Past, University of Haifa.
  • 2004, From distant shores: 19th century Dutch archaeology in European perspective, Universiteit Göteborg.

In the media

  • 2014, De laatste adem van Augustus, NRC-Handelsblad, 20-8-2014, 20
  • 2014, Het pit en merg van den Carthaagschen grond, De groene Amsterdammer, 27-11-2014, 8-11
  • 2013, Een koninklijk muiltje, NRC-Handelsblad, 30-4-2013, 20
  • 2012, Klassiek meldpunt, NRC-Handelsblad, 21-2-2012, 6
  • 2010, Een Griekse hopliet middenin de Jordaan, NRC-Handelsblad, 1-2-2010, 18
  • 2009, Griekse held ontrukt aan duivenpoep, NRC-Handelsblad, 16-11-2009, 18

Ancillary activities

  • Fellow Society of Antiquaries of London
  • Guest employee LUCAS, Leiden University
  • Referent Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca, Rome
  • Regent Hof Bethlehem, Leiden
  • Treasurer Vereniging van Hoogleraren (ProParte), Leiden University