…Four Centuries of Leiden University
The exhibition, Celebrating Curiosity: Four Centuries of Leiden University will open tomorrow after much hard work and dedication by all involved. The exhibition was curated and organised by my museum studies class as a wider group project.
If you’ve ever wanted a glimpse into the future of museums, keep reading, you’re in for a treat.
The exhibition was based on a history of Leiden University recently published by Prof. dr. Willem Otterspeer of the Academisch Historisch Museum (Academical Historical Museum). The exhibition was divided into the four centuries of the University’s history and within each of these content groups, students were assigned to different task groups: loans, design, text editing and budget & PR.
The organisation of the exhibition was an excellent exercise and really brought each person’s strengths to the fore. There are 26 of us in the class altogether, so while we benefited from having plenty of hands to help make the exhibition, it could also be a challenge to co-ordinate and communicate with such a large team.
I worked within the content group researching the beginnings of the university through the 17th century and also with the design group. The work of the design group in particular was time-consuming and challenging at times but I think the result was a cohesive, clean and inviting aesthetic – a success! A colour gradient using the official university shades of blue was adopted as one of the motifs of the exhibition. The gradient was intended to allude to the progression of time. We used this gradient on the object labels, the poster and promotional materials and on the showcase stickers. Each century was assigned its own shade of blue. I think this successfully tied in with the identity of the university, its brand and with the exhibition’s theme and concept.
A highlight for me was working with the Academic Historical Museum and the Special Collections of the University Library and choosing the objects to include in the exhibition.
I also really enjoyed becoming well-acquainted with my new university. I had the opportunity to learn so much about the history of the institution as well as realising and taking advantage of some of the great facilities that are available to students here. I’m now confident in accessing the archives of the Academic Historical Museum and of the Special Collections of the library.
Some (bad quality phone) photos of the finished product:
The showcases posed problems in that the lighting was not ideal and we could move the shelves in a very limited number of positions.
Once we had seen the space in person, we quickly came to the realisation that a strict edit was required for the showcases to avoid over-crowding and to ensure that the most important points of interest were included. We also wanted to leave space to include some interesting design motifs like the tulip bulbs, the quill, the scrolls and books etc.
So, if you do happen to be strolling along the Rapenburg any time before June 19th make sure to pop in and take a look!