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Invitation: Kick-off NWO-Project Visualizing the Unknown for the Livestream (1 October)


On behalf of the project-team, the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave invites you to the kick-off meeting of the NWO-funded research-project

Visualizing the Unknown. Scientific Observation, Representation and Communication in 17th-century Science and Society

which will take place at Rijksmuseum Boerhaave on 1 October, 14.30-16.30

This exciting project aims at reconstructing the pioneering observations of 17th-century microscopists such as Robert Hooke, Johannes Swammerdam and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. Facing previously unknown structures such as the anatomy of insects, sperm and bacteria, these pioneering microscopists had to develop a new visual idiom to shape, record and disseminate their observations. What could they see? How did they represent their observations? How did they convince their peers and the larger public of new scientific facts? By using original microscopes, specimens and drawings, the research project ‘Visualizing the Unknown’ will shed new light on this process, which still is relevant in scientific communication today. During our launch-event, some preliminary images of the project will be shown.


  • 14.30 Word of welcome, Amito Haarhuis, director of Rijksmuseum Boerhaave
  • 14.40 The making of the project: backgrounds, challenges and techniques, Sietske Fransen and Tiemen Cocquyt
  • 15.10 From observation to publication: the role of images in science, Eric Jorink
  • 15.30 Escaped from the MicroLab: some teasers and trailers, Wim van Egmond
  • 15.40 Visualizing the Unknown and the Republic of Letters, Dirk van Miert, director Huygens Institute (KNAW)
  • 16.00 Questions, concluding remarks
  • 16.30 Drinks and bites

The research is a collaboration between the Huygens Institute (KNAW), Bibliotheca Hertziana–Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome, and Rijksmuseum Boerhaave. Additional partners are the Royal Society of London and the Rijksmuseum.

If you want to follow the event online, please register here to receive the link of the live stream.