The sacred in musealised synagogue space. Representations of Jewish religious life in the Amsterdam Jewish Cultural Quarter

Paul Ariese’s doctoral research at the University of Amsterdam (Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture) focuses on the question of what religious meanings, sensations and experiences are evoked in people today by the Portuguese Synagogue (both a heritage site and place of worship) and the Great Synagogue (since 1987 the Jewish Historical Museum). The research explores how Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities, heritage professionals and museum audiences interpret, shape and use these spaces. The study provides insight into the interaction between religion and heritage, paving a path to reposition Jewish religious heritage in the increasingly secular and pluriform Dutch society. The research is supervised by Prof. Emile Schrijver (UvA/JCK) and Prof. Hester Dibbits (EUR/Reinwardt Academy).

Paul Ariese
Paul Ariese has been affiliated with the Reinwardt Academy since 2015 as a teacher for the international master's program Applied Museum and Heritage Studies (AMHS) and the bachelor's degree in Cultural Heritage. In addition, he regularly participates in international training activities of the Reinwardt Academy.

He previously worked as a content developer at Perspekt Studios, as an exhibition maker at the Tropenmuseum, and as a designer at Architectenbureau Jowa. Ariese studied Graphic Design at Artez School of the Arts and Architectural Design at the Rietveld Academy. He received his MA in Museum Studies with distinction from the University of Leicester.

NWO Doctoral Grant for Teachers
On June 20, 2022, the NWO (Dutch Research Council) announced that Paul Ariese is one of the twenty-four laureates of the Doctoral Grant for Teachers. The funding allows him to spend the next four years doing research that will eventually lead to a PhD graduation.

Conferences, papers, workshops

  • Religion, Collections & Heritage Group, London. Inaugural Conference. Paper ‘The Entanglement of Religion and Heritage in Musealised Synagogues’ (July 2022).
  • Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel. Research Workshop of the Israel Science Foundation ‘Immigration and Religion’. Paper ‘Religion-Heritage Entanglements in Musealised Synagogues’ (June 2022).
  • Reinwardt Academy, Jewish Cultural Quarter, IJsfontein, in cooperation with the Network Religious Heritage. Fieldlab ‘Exhibiting Religious Objects’ (May 2022).
  • Nederlands Genootschap voor Godsdienstwetenschap, The Meertens Institute, and University of Amsterdam. Conference ‘Religion and Heritage: Futures for Religious Pasts’. Paper ‘Questioning before Whom You Stand. Perceptions of the Sacred in Musealised Synagogue Space’ (November 2021).
  • HDC Centre for Religious History, VU Amsterdam. Workgroup ‘Religion and Material Culture’. Presentation ‘Musealised Synagogue Space’ (October 2021).  
  • Reinwardt Academy, VU Amsterdam, Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, in cooperation with the Centre for Religion and Heritage, University of Groningen and the Network Religious Heritage. International Summer School ‘Sites, Objects and Practices of Hope’. Academic Coordinator (August 2021). 


  • Ariese, Paul. Forthcoming. ‘The Entanglement of Things. Perceptions of the Sacred in Musealised Synagogue Space’. Jewish Culture and History
  • Ariese, Paul. Forthcoming. ‘Engaging with Musealized Religious Space: Lessons from University Teaching’. The Bloomsbury Handbook of Religion and Heritage in Contemporary Europe, Todd Weir and Lieke Wijnia (eds)
  • Schrandt, Bernadette, Paul Ariese, et al. 2021. Soundverse: Een onderzoek naar de rol van VR in gelaagde betekenisconstructie bij de Oudekerkstoren. Amsterdam: CoECI
  • Ariese, Paul. 2021. ‘Interpreting Religion with Cultural Heritage Students’. Museum and Society 19:1, 1-16
Back to list