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C.J. Zandvliet (1953) has been appointed Professor of History of Amsterdam, more specifically the social, institutional, spatial and material aspects in the early modern period, at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam.

Prof Kees Zandvliet, professor History of Amsterdam

In his research into the history of Amsterdam, Kees Zandvliet devotes special attention to suburban and international aspects, including foreign relations.

The coming years will see Zandvliet explore elitist culture during the 17th and 18th century. The aim of this study, titled ‘The Wealthiest 500’, is to expose the network of money, power, religion and heritage between families, cities, regions and the international world. In his new study Zandvliet builds on his earlier work ‘The Wealthiest 250 of the Golden Age’ (2006). Approximately 45% of the highest earners lived in Amsterdam.

From Spanish banners to the National Historical Museum

In his professorial capacity, Zandvliet will also focus on the musealisation of Dutch history. From the Spanish banners suspended from the Knights’Hall in the 17th century to the fiasco surrounding the National Historical Museum in 2011: the imaging of urban, national and international history has been a topic of much debate in the Netherlands. The history of museums reflects both the vision of history as a transformation in political structure and as changing visions on the function of objects. In this Amsterdam plays a noticeable role. For example: in the second half of the 19th century the city used a huge loan to induce the government into relocating the Museum of History and Art from the Hague to Amsterdam. The debate about whether the Rijksmuseum (State Museum) in Amsterdam can act as guardian for the different facets of Dutch history has in the meanwhile taken centre stage.

The Golden Age as laboratory

Zandvliet has been involved with the Rijksmuseum since 1996, initially as conservator and thereafter as the head of History. During this time he was responsible for organising the exhibitions ‘Maurice, Prince of Orange’ (2000) and ‘The Dutch encounter with Asia, 1600-1950’ (2002). Zandvliet has been the acting head of Presentation at the Amsterdam Museum since 2008, and is currently organising the exhibition ‘The Golden Age: Laboratory of the World’, which will open on 14 December. Alongside the exhibition, the television series The Golden Age – presented by Hans Goedkoop – will also be aired. December 2012 will also see the publication of a book with the same title by Zandvliet and Goedkoop.

Kees Zandvliet started his career at the former State Archives (later renamed as the National Archives), where he was head of the department Maps and Drawings. In 1998 he published the book Mapping money: maps, plans and topographic paintings and their role in Dutch overseas expansion during the 16th and 17th centuries, in which he analysed the crucial geopolitical role played by maps and cartographers in overseas expansion. In addition Zandvliet has also authored various publications in which maps play an important role as source, and in 1981 took the initiative in founding the journal Caert-thresoor