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Leiden European City of Science

In 2022, Leiden will be the European City of Science. During this year, Leiden presents a public programme brimming with science, knowledge, arts, and skills for anyone with a curious mind. Leiden University Libraries (UBL) organises an extensive programme of activities on the theme of Leiden European City of Science 2022. Exhibitions, walks, blogs, podcasts, book salons and talk shows are made for the public, where objects from Special Collections take centre stage.

Detail of the banner on the facade of the Leiden University Library for the thematic programme 'Leiden European City of Science'. It is an artistic adaptation of the manuscript in which Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) described his discovery of the rings of Saturn (1656-1683), HUG 5, fol. 50 verso.

Exhibition Books that made History

In 2022 we will present two exhibitions within the theme Leiden City of Science. On Wednesday 22 June at 19.00, the exhibition Books that made History opens in the National Museum of Antiquities. For this exhibition, a selection of 25 books with a strong connection to the academic history of the city of Leiden will be on display, from the university's founding in 1575 to the present day. All books come from the UBL collections. The exhibition shows books that have had a lasting impact on science and culture, and which are still relevant to this day. The publication Boeken die geschiedenis schreven will accompany this exhibition.

Star map – ‘Platte globus op alle polushooghten seer siesntigh voor stuerlieden’ (1684)

Exhibition Maps that made History

The book Kaarten die geschiedenis schreven will be published in the autumn of 2022. The publication will also be available in English under the title Maps That Made History. Simultaneously, an exhibition will open in the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden, where a wide variety of evocative maps from all over the world will be displayed from the UBL collections. These different map traditions provide a view of the world from different perspectives. A map is always a simplification of reality: reduced, distorted, and selected. This allows the map image to be manipulated. The emphasis in the exhibition is on this use of maps as a means of power.

Kester Freriks guest writer

Nature writer Kester Freriks, also affiliated with NRC Handelsblad, has been appointed as a guest writer at the UBL. Using special borders on old maps, Freriks and Martijn Storms, curator of Maps & Atlases, will look for the traces of these borders in cultural history and in the Dutch landscape. The results of the collaboration between writer and curator are described in the book Grensverkenningen. Langs oude grenzen in Nederland, which will be published in June 2022.

Leiden press history

Together with Jaap de Jong, professor of Journalism and New Media at Leiden University, we are organising a research and education project on Leiden press history. An online exhibition will be made with students and a printed newspaper will be published and distributed as an appendix to the Leidsch Dagblad. In addition, the UBL will organise a symposium and the annual P.J. Block lecture on 3 November.

Paul Ehrenfest, Paul junior and Albert Einstein in Leiden (1920)


At the end of last year, a Leiden themed issue of the public magazine De Boekenwereld was published, this time devoted to 'Traveling scientists'. Various Leiden researchers and curators wrote articles about Middle Dutch manuscripts, Javanese travel stories, a botanist in the tropics, a sea voyage to the Indies, photos of the Snellius expedition and Leiden as a science centre for foreign visitors. In June 2022, another Leiden themed issue of the magazine will be published, under the subtitle 'The role of the publisher in the production of knowledge'.

Drawing of plants from 'Het Amboinsche Kruidboek' (1741-1750) by Georg Everhard Rumphius (1627-1702)

Blogs and broadcasts

On the Leiden Special Collections Blog, curators and guest authors publish a monthly blog entry on a topic related to Leiden City of Science. In addition, curators interview guests in the talk show Van kluis naar kussen, about the collections and their use in education and research. Recent books are discussed in the Book Salons, in which curators also show relevant objects. Finally, Leiden researchers will discuss science in a new series of UBLpodcasts, based on items from the Special Collections.

Stay informed

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Special collections

The UBL holds Special Collections of national and international importance. Much care is given to the preservation of this cultural heritage, as well as to its availability to students and researchers. By organizing thematic programmes such as 'Leiden City of Science' and previously the thematic programmes 'Beyond the content', 'Oppression and Freedom' and 'University and Student Life' – the use of the collections is stimulated in new ways.

Academiegebouw Universiteit Leiden (BI-B-FM-116-31)
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