Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, Netherlands

The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden is the national archaeological museum of the Netherlands It is located in Leiden The Museum grew out of the collection of Leiden University and still closely co-operates with its Faculty of Archaeology The museum calls itself the national center for archaeology, and focuses on ancient Egypt, the ancient Near East, the classical world of Greece, Etruria and Rome and the early (prehistoric, Roman and Medieval) Netherlands

The Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) is the national centre of archaeology where you can appreciate the cultures of ancient Egypt, the Near East, the classical world and the early Netherlands

The Egyptian collection is one of the ten most important Egyptian collections in the world The department Archaeology of the Netherlands is a unique permanent exhibition, as it is the only complete survey of the archaeological history of the Netherlands

Reuvens takes charge:
The collection of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden began with an inheritance in 1743 After the death of Gerard van Papenbroek his collection was bequeathed to Leiden University The bequest comprised about 150 antiquities and was published in 1746 by a professor of the university It was put on public display, but poorly taken care of until half a century later it would finally get an official curator This curator was classicist dr Caspar Reuvens, the world’s first archaeology professor Along with his duties as a professor at the university came the care of the archaeological cabinet, then consisting mainly of the Papenbroek inheritance

The contributions of Rottiers:
The growth of the National Museum of Antiquities would prove to be depended much more upon foreign investments Despite the gathering of antiquities from various Dutch organizations, the really important additions to the museum would come from buying personal collections Among the first of these was the first Rottiers Collection It belonged to a retired Flemish colonel who had begun collecting during a stay in Athens In 1820 this collection was offered to the government of the Low Countries, and Reuvens was sent to determine its value and recommend on whether to buy or not Reuvens was enthusiastic about the collection because it contained original Greek sculpture and Greek pottery, categories which lacked in the Leiden collection until then Cautioning the ministry not to buy at any price, the Rottiers collection was eventually sold for the sum of 12,000 guilders and placed in the National Museum of Antiquities

The contributions of Humbert:
Rottiers was not the only agent working for the Dutch government procuring antiquities however While Rottiers was working in the eastern Mediterranean, Jean Emile Humbert was collecting and excavating in Tunisia After selling his personal collection to the government, Humbert was asked to return to Tunisia on an archaeological expedition Raised to the Order of the Netherlands Lion, with instructions from Reuvens and with a state-funded budget Humbert would collect and excavate antiquities in Tunisia from 1822 to 1824 Most important about this first expedition by Humbert was the acquisition of eight statues, which are still on display as centerpieces in the museum

Death of Reuvens:
In the final years of Reuvens’ life there was a severe decline in governmental support for the museum The rebellion and seceding of Belgium in 1830 were costly matters for the king, and little to no room was found for adventurous expeditions or excavations Reuvens died in 1835, after suffering what seems to be a severe stroke by the reports He left behind a young museum with a scholarly renowned collection, which had grown from the Papenbroek inheritance to now include a large amount of Etruscan, Egyptian, Carthaginian, Roman, Greek and other items

Leemans takes over:
After his death Reuvens work was taken over by his student Conradus Leemans who had excavated with Reuvens and was present at his death As described below, under Leemans the museum would finally get its own building Prospects for continuing the growth of the collection looked bleak however, after royal interest waned and with the enormous cost of the d’Anastasy deal still in mind Leemans found a solution by using the official gazette to appeal private collectors, Dutch ambassadors and consuls for donations and aid in building the collection The appeal was successful and objects from all over the world kept flowing in

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