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Beauty in Science

from February 12 2011 until June 5 2011

Green algae, photograph: Wim van Egmond/Micropolitan Museum Nine-week embryo, photograph: Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam A carbon nanotube (green) over two electrodes, photograph: Cees Dekker, Nanotechnology Institute, Delft University of Technology Marble, Verde D’Arno, polished surface 7x9 cm, photograph: Dirk Wiersma, Utrecht Inside the Eagle Nebula, photograph: T. A. Rector & B. A. Wolpa, National Optical Astronomy Observatory/Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy/National Science Foundation Mouse sperm cell formation, photograph: Gert van Capelle, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam Crystalline mixture of paracetamol and dextrin, photograph: Loes Modderman Opal, Yowah Nut, 3x5 cm, photograph: Dirk Wiersma, Utrecht Functioning of the immune system: young white blood cells (pink) and stromal cells (blue), photograph: Willem van Ewijk, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam Germination of fungal spores, photograph: Jan Dijksterhuis, CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre (KNAW), Utrecht Crystalline mixture including dextrin and potassium bicarbonate, photograph: Loes Modderman Lichen, photograph: Ruth van Crevel from Plantenparade (2001) Bacterial culture: Pseudomonas stutzeri, magnification 2x, photograph: R.P. Verkooijen, Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Department, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam Bacterial culture: Salmonella typhimurium, magnification 1.6x, photograph: R.P. Verkooijen, Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Department, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam Lizard Orchid, photograph: Wim van Heel, National Herbarium of the Netherlands 'Beauty in Science' exhibitionview, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg 'Beauty in Science' exhibitionview, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg 'Beauty in Science' exhibitionview, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg 'Beauty in Science' exhibitionview, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg 'Beauty in Science’ exhibitionview, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg 'Beauty in Science' exhibitionview, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg 'Beauty in Science' exhibitionview, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg 'Beauty in Science' exhibitionview, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg 'Beauty in Science' exhibitionview, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg 'Beauty in Science' exhibitionview, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg

Science is a quest, using verifiable facts, for new knowledge about the real world. Art creates its own reality and therefore summons up emotions and often a sense of beauty in the viewer. Does aesthetics also play a part in scientific research? Prof. Dr Hans Galjaard (1935) has curated an exhibition focusing on the beauty of science.

Ten disciplines

The challenge was to find out if there were images of great beauty in the natural sciences. Over the past two years approximately a hundred researchers at thirty institutions have been approached. They work in the following disciplines: physics, chemistry, geology, microbiology, marine biology, botany, fungal diversity, cell biology of higher organisms, human reproduction and astronomy.

From plinth to ceiling

In this exhibition there are no art works but scientific films and images are projected on the walls and ceilings. They include beautiful images of (sub)atomic particles, the effect of sound on matter, crystals of small and large molecules and multicoloured mineral dust. But there is also an impressive diversity of single-cell organisms, plants and fungi. Modern technology allows us to witness the birth of a stem cell, cell division and chromosome replication and cell death in higher organisms. The exhibition also contains poignant images of the human foetus and overwhelming images of the universe.

‘Stendhal moment’

In his essay Hans Galjaard writes about how he was moved by a film of 4D ultrasound images of the development of the human foetus made by the gynaecologist Stuart Campbell. This was the beginning of his plan to collect aesthetically pleasing scientific images. In his quest for images he has asked many researchers if they have also experienced such a moment of overwhelming beauty – a so-called ‘Stendhal moment’ – but this was not the case. By far the majority of researchers were entirely focussed on acquiring new knowledge and insights.

These institutes and researchers have contributed to this unique collection of surprising images, which may well provide you with your own ‘Stendhal moment’. Allow yourself to be transported to the world of the Beauty of Science.

Audio tour

An audio tour was developed to accompany this exhibition, texts written by Hans Galjaard himself. You can rent this tour from the museum’s information desk for €3.00. 

Booklet

Download the Beauty in Science booklet here. It features the essay by Hans Galjaard.

Discount

Your admission ticket to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen gives you a discount of €2,50 in Museum Boerhaave in Leiden (valid from 12 February until 5 June 2011)

The exhibition is made possible in part by  G. Ph Verhagen-Stichting, Erasmus Trustfonds, Stichting Swart-van Essen and Erasmus Foundation.

Watch now at ArtTube!

The serie Beauty in Science, with a lecture by Prof. Dr Hans Galjaard and an interesting report of the opening.

postcards Life in Water

A series of postcards by Wim van Egmond are available at the Museum Shop.

press releases