Gijs van der Ham is Senior Curator in the Rijksmuseum’s Department of History
Curriculum vitae and work
Gijs van der Ham studied History in Groningen and Amsterdam (UvA), PhD in 1990 on ‘Zeeland 1940-1945’, awarded the Dr. L. de Jongprijs in 1991. He had previously worked at the Rijksmuseum from 1980 to 1985. From 1990 through 2001, he worked at Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds. He is working in the Rijksmuseum’s Department of History since October 2001, first as a curator and from 2010 as a senior curator. Before returning to the Rijksmuseum, he published in 2000 the book 200 jaar Rijksmuseum. Geschiedenis van een nationaal symbool (200 years Rijksmuseum. The history of a national symbol). This book about the history of the museum since ca 1800 was commissioned by the museum because of its 200th anniversary that year.
A true Jack-of-all-trades, involved in different subjects. He is responsible for the medals and coins collection as well as for the historical aspects of the permanent Rijksmuseum presentations of the Middle Ages and 16th and 17th centuries. Therefore, he was closely involved in the furnishing plans for the galleries for the Middle Ages/16th century and the galleries for the 17th century in the renovated Rijksmuseum that opened in 2013. Before that, he was responsible for the first two galleries of the Masterpieces (2003). He was editor of the Rijksmuseum Bulletin from 2002 to 2009.
In early 2016, Vantilt publishers of Nijmegen published both a Dutch and an English edition of his book on the historical ties between Ghana (the West African Gold Coast) and the Netherlands: Tarnished gold. Ghana and the Netherlands from 1593 (Dof goud. Ghana en Nederland sinds 1593). The Dutch edition is a slightly reworked and redesigned version of the first edition, which was published in November 2013. The Rijksmuseum’s collection plays a leading role in both this book and in The History of the Netherlands in 100 Objects that was published in 2013 – only available in a Dutch edition.
In 2007, he made an extensive exhibition on Dutch heroism through the centuries in the Amsterdam New Church, called Held. Van der Ham is curator of the large exhibition on the Eighty Years’ War, 80 years war. The birth of the Netherlands (12 October 2018 - 20 January 2019). The book of this exhibition is largely written by him and is published by Atlas Contact Amsterdam (only in Dutch).
- 80 jaar oorlog. De geboorte van Nederland (Amsterdam 2018)
- De geschiedenis van Nederland in 100 voorwerpen (Amsterdam 2017 - reprint as paperback)
- Tarnished gold. Ghana and the Netherlands from 1593 (Dof goud, Nederland en Ghana 1593-1872 (Nijmegen 2013))
- The History of the Netherlands in 100 Objects (Amsterdam 2013)
- Held (editor and 1 essay) (Amsterdam 2007)
- Geschiedenis van Nederland (Amsterdam 2009/4e druk, published as e-book in 2011)
- 200 jaar Rijksmuseum. Geschiedenis van een nationaal symbool (Amsterdam 2000)
- Zeeland 1940-1945 (deel 2) (Zwolle 1990)
- Wilhelmina in Londen; documenten van een regering in ballingschap (Haarlem 1981)
- Nederlandse kunst 1800-1900 (editor) (Zwolle 2009)
- “The Clergyman and his Grandson. The Story of a Family”, in The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 58(2010)/4, pp. 366-388 (in het Nederlands verschenen in Jaarboek Amstelodamum 2010), over een portret van de remonstrantse dominee Isaac Pontanus en de aan zijn kleinzoon Hendrik van Beek gegeven gouden penning.
- “Clara in beeld”, in Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 53 (2005), pp. 192-203, over de ‘Nederlandse’ neushoorn Clara (ca 1738-1758), haar reizen door Europa en tekeningen van haar in de RM-collectie.
- “Het schilderij en de werkelijkheid” in Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 53 (2005), pp. 68-73, over Gezicht op Julitabruck door Allart van Everdingen.
- “Die eeuwige onderdoorgang”, in Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 53 (2005), pp. 434-441.