This page features upcoming and past events, ranging from public lectures, workshops, exhibitions and seminars.

Background image: Otto Marseus van Schrieck, Forest Floor with Thistle and Snake (detail), c. 1665. Oil on canvas, 68,4 x 53 cm. Cat. nr. 3070. Mecklenburgisches Landesmuseum Schwerin

Upcoming events

Public Event: Nacht van de Geschiedenis, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

28 October 2023: Eureka! Een ontdekking, uitvinding of compleet nieuw perspectief: sommige wetenschappers wijdden hun hele leven aan dat éne ‘Eureka-moment’. Hun inzichten hebben onze blik op de wereld gevormd, en nog altijd wordt onze manier van kijken beïnvloed door nieuwe kennis. Zo’n geniale ingeving staat meestal niet op zichzelf, maar gaat gepaard met twijfel, dwaalsporen en toeval. Tegelijk roepen nieuwe inzichten vrijwel meteen nieuwe vragen op: zo leren we steeds meer over de ruimte, maar wat zegt het over onze plek op aarde? Tijdens de Nacht van de Geschiedenis kun je door het hele museum iets zien, horen of beleven.

Het Rijksmuseum organiseert de Nacht van de Geschiedenis  samen met vier partners: Vlaams-Nederlands Huis deBuren, de Black Achievement Month, het Huygens Instituut en het NIOD Instituut voor Oorlogs-, Holocaust- en Genocidestudies.

For more information on the program, or booking tickets, please follow the link below.

Past events

VanLeeuwenhoek, by Wim van Egmond,

Talk: How to See the Invisible: New Instruments, Observation Techniques, and the imagination in Seventeenth Microscopy

10 October 2023: KIIP Talk & Workshops by Sietske Fransen

Team member Sietske Fransen will hold a talk at the ‘Vrije Universiteit Brussel’ entitled ‘How to See the Invisible: New Instruments, Observation Techniques, and the imagination in Seventeenth Microscopy’. This talk will discuss how an interdisciplinary approach to the history of microscopy can gives us new insights into practices of science and art in the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries.

For more information on the talk and workshop, please follow the link bellow:


Free Public Event: From Leeuwenhoek to the electron microscope

14 September 2023: Join us for a discussion and Q&A with Professor Katharine Cashman FRS, Professor Matthew Cobb, and Dr Dirk van Miert to celebrate Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and the development of microscopy to the present day at the Royal Society.

In this discussion chaired by Dirk van Miert, director of the Huygens Institute for the History and Culture of the Netherlands, Katharine Cashman and Matthew Cobb will explore the development of microscopy and its applications in their respective areas of research. The presentations will be followed by a live Q&A, where audiences in person and online can join the conversation.

This event is taking place with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the United Kingdom. Image on the left: Photograph of a Maggot by Matthew Cobb

For more information on the event and speakers, please follow the link down below.

Image Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Conference

Conference at the Royal Society: Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and his impact on the history of microscopy

14-15 September 2023: Three hundred years ago the Dutch microscopist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek died. He had been corresponding with the Royal Society for fifty years. Leeuwenhoek, born in Delft in the Netherlands in 1632, developed himself into one of the most prolific early microscopists. He made his own lenses and small hand-held microscopes which were more versatile than most other devices at the time. With these instruments and his outstanding preparation and observation techniques, he was the first to see and describe red blood cells, bacteria and many other things.

In this conference we will take a close look at Leeuwenhoek’s seventeenth- and eighteenth-century microscopic practices as well as the development of the field of microscopy from his death to the twenty-first century. We will show how Leeuwenhoek was working as part of a large European network of scientists exploring the natural world with microscopes. The papers in this conference will make clear that microscopic practices and the way in which scientists communicated their findings to each other started in Leeuwenhoek’s time and are still used today.

Conference organisers: Dr Sietske Fransen, Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History; Drs Tiemen Cocquyt, Rijksmuseum Boerhaave; Professor Dr Eric Jorink, Leiden University & Huygens Instituut.

Book Presentation 'Veel, Klein en Curieus'

20 April 2023: Book Presentation at Rijksmuseum Boerhaave of: Veel, Klein en Curieus, de wereld van Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723). A biography of the seventeenth-century Delft microscopist by historian, science journalist and team member of Visualizing the Unknown, Geertje Dekkers.

Book Antoni

Book Presentation Antoni

18 April 2023: Book presentation of ‘Antoni | van Leeuwenhoek en de microwereld’ at Rijksmuseum Boerhaave

Onvoorstelbaar, Leeuwenhoek exhibition, Rijksmuseum Boerhave

Exhibition Rijksmuseum Boerhaave: Onvoorstelbaar/Unimaginable

17 April 2023: Opening Van Leeuwenhoek exhibition Onvoorstelbaar/unimaginable, at Rijksmuseum Boerhaave

Event, Sprig Congress

Congress KNHG: Ruiken, Proeven, Doen

13 April 2023: KNHG spring congress on peformative methods in historical reserach. Prof. Dr. Eric Jorink will take part in a round table discussion on re-making, re-doing methods and Visualizing the Unknown at the Dutch ‘Openlucht Museum’ in Arnhem.

Besides the round table, Eric will give a workshop together with microphotographer and microscopist Wim van Egmond, titled:  Rebuild (and work) with a 17th-century microscope.

NICAS logo met zeventiende eeuwse tekeningen eierstokken van de bijenkoningin door Swammerdam

Colloquim NICAS

16 March 2023: Colloquim organised by NICAS where our PhD Student Ellen Pater will discuss the artistic skill and knowledge as well as the artistic processes involved in the production of early modern images made with the microscope by taking Johannes Swammerdam as a case study

Opening: Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek-year 2023 and launch 'Door de lens van Antoni' project

24 November 2022: Opening, Trippenhuis, KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam)
Organised by: Huygens Institute (KNAW), Shoreline Productions, KNAW Akademie van Kunsten
Made possible by: Huygens Institute, NWO-project Visualising the Unknown, Koninklijke Nederlandse Vereniging voor Microbiologie / Stichting Microcanon & de Microbenclub, Nederlands Instituut voor Biologie, Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, TU Delft, Wim van Egmond Microphotography, Shoreline Productions

Dürer, Stag Beetle, Creepy Crawies

Crawly Creatures in Context. Observing, Representing, and how to Make Sense of Them?

27 October 2022: Workshop, Artis Library Amsterdam
Filippo Buonanni, The anatomy of a mosquito wing in Micrographia Curiosa, 1703

“Images and Institutions” The Visual Culture of Early Modern Scientific Societies

International Workshop in Rome: 14-16 September 2022

Organised by: Dr. Matthijs Jonker (Head of Art History and Cultural Studies at the Dutch Royal Institute in Rome) and Dr. Katherine Reinhart (Binghamton University)

Made possible by: Dutch Royal institute in Rome (NL), Max Planck – Bibliotheca Hertziana (DE/IT), Accademia dei Lincei (IT), Society for Renaissance Studies (UK), Huizinga Institute (NL) and Association for Art History (UK)

Stelluti, Bees, Melissographia, Bee Anatomy, Barberini Bee, Barberini crest

Workshop: Visual and Material Culture of Microscopy in Seventeenth-Century Italy

22-24 June 2022

International workshop at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History
Organized by Sietske Fransen (BHMPI) and Tiemen Cocquyt (Rijksmuseum Boerhaave).

Taking as as a starting point the drawings and printed images that were created by seventeenth-century microscopists and their artists. In a conversation between experts on seventeenth-century lenses (in microscopes and telescopes), early modern scientific instruments, epistemic images before and after the introduction of the microscope, the Italian microscopic networks, and drawing as an observational art, this workshop aims at understanding better the visual strategies of depicting the previously unseen and unknown.

Sietske Fransen, Woudscoten, Gewina, Keynote Lecture

Keynote Lecture: Contested Observations: Seventeenth-Century Microscopy and the Challenge to See the Same

18-19 June 2022

At the 9th Gewina Meeting of Historians of Science in the Low Countries, Sietske Fransen (BH-MPI) gave a keynote lecture on seventeenth-century microscopy. Focussing on how microscopists communicated about and compared their observations, how different magnifying instruments were made and the visualization of the micro-world.

Johannes Swammerdam; Butterfly; Herziana Seminar

Research Seminar: Otto Marseus van Schrieck, Johannes Swammerdam and Paolo Boccone: Visual Strategies and Communicating Science

23 February 2022
This seminar was given at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institut für Kunstgeschichte. After introducing Visualizing the Unknown, visiting professor Eric Jorink focussed on the interaction between various artistic and scientific strategies, as well as Dutch-Italian relations around 1670.
Johannes Swammerdam, The eye of a bee in Icones operis Bibliae naturae, 1675. Drawing. Detail from Fol. 21r. BPL 126 B. Leiden University Library

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

1 October 2021

Launch of the NWO-project Visualizing the Unknown. Videos of all presentations available via: Learn More.