Initially working as curator of the Amsterdam Museum and lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, Robert Parthesius developed a track record of research projects and museum exhibitions in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Significant projects were initiation of the Maritime Archaeological Unit and the excavation of the Dutch East-Indiaman Avondster in Galle, Sri Lanka (1997-2007). He curated international exhibitions on cultural exchange between Europe and Asia in Australia, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Amsterdam. In 2010 the Amsterdam University Press published his book Dutch Ships in Tropical Waters.
During his work in Sri Lanka Robert Parthesius developed an interest in heritage studies and the complex relationship between local communities, indigenous knowledge, and the management of World Heritage Sites. In 2006 he was appointed as director of the CIE–Centre for International Heritage Activities and associate professor at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. This institutional base allowed him to further his ideas on alternative heritage management models in our globalizing world. The program of rehabilitation of the cultural sector in Afghanistan and the heritage programs in Sub Sahara Africa in cooperation with Robben Island Museum allowed him, a network of local communities, and his research group to bring theory in practice. In the pamphlet ‘A changing World, Perspectives on Heritage’ (2015) the experiences in Afghanistan are shared.
In his capacity as visiting a professor at New York University Abu Dhabi, he is working since 2013 on the HeritageLab as a concept for more inclusive and sustainable models for heritage management. He has organized research and field schools for NYUAD on World Heritage Sites connected through historical Arabian Trade Routes. He has organized at NYUAD the international conferences ‘The Unpredictable Past’ (2014) and ‘Connected Through Heritage’ (2015) and is co-organizer of ‘Dialogues with the Past’ (2016) and Scientific Research for Cultural Heritage (2017).