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IMAGINING THE UNIVERSE

Date:
Fri 22.10.2021
Sun 16.01.2022
Location: M Leuven
Curators: prof. dr. Jan Van der Stock & team Illuminare (KU Leuven)

Imagining the Universe is rooted in the eternal sense of wonder inspired by the cosmos and explores how this manifested in Europe and the Middle East – from the prehistoric era to the 18th century and the Age of Reason.

What is our place in the universe? Mythology, religion, science, and the visual arts have come up with different answers to this fundamental question, ranging from the formulaic to the fantastic. A hundred masterpieces catch our timeless awe – in the act.

Maria Clara Eimmart, Full Moon, 1693-98 © Museo della Specola, Università di Bologna
Maria Clara Eimmart, Full Moon, 1693-98 © Museo della Specola, Università di Bologna
Guercino, Atlas carrying the Celestial Sphere, 1646 © Museo Stefano Bardini, Firenze
Guercino, Atlas carrying the Celestial Sphere, 1646 © Museo Stefano Bardini, Firenze

Eternal astonishment

The exhibition opens with the timeless tradition of astonishment, of humanity wondering what those points of light can tell us about the origin, shape, and meaning of the vast and unfathomable universe. A series of rooms offer a fascinating glimpse into the wide range of answers that have been posited to these pivotal questions over the centuries. Geographically speaking, the exhibition runs the gamut, from the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions to Muslim and Arab scientists who catapulted astronomy light years into the future.

Next up is a discovery of incredible depictions of the zodiac, intriguing calendars, mind-blowing worldviews, and baffling horoscopes that illustrate humankind’s age-old fascination with the predictive possibilities of celestial cycles.

Trailblazers Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton ensure that old beliefs were tested against innovative observations and ideas. Telescopes and meticulously precise calculations led to new insights, along with fundamental, often ground-shattering shifts in human understanding.


TIP:

While you’re there, be sure to check out Richard Long's solo exhibition at Museum M. This British artist is enthralled by the universe and sees it, in addition to nature, and one of his main sources of inspiration.

Loans

This breathtaking exhibition consists of masterpieces from over 45 Belgian and international collections, including the London National Gallery, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Madrid’s Patrimonio Nacional, and the Vatican Museums. For several pieces, this will be their debut showing in Belgium, and some will undergo conservation treatment, especially for the exhibition.

  • The Thinker and Sitting Woman © Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Roemenië
    The Thinker and Sitting Woman © Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Roemenië
  • Hercules carrying the Celestial Sphere,  Brussels tapestry  © Colecciones Reales. Patrimonio Nacional
    Hercules carrying the Celestial Sphere, Brussels tapestry © Colecciones Reales. Patrimonio Nacional
  • Andreas Cellarius, Harmonia macrocosmia © University Library Amsterdam
    Andreas Cellarius, Harmonia macrocosmia © University Library Amsterdam
  • Mummy Coffin of Peftjauneith © National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden
    Mummy Coffin of Peftjauneith © National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden
  • Richard Rowley (attributed), Educational Model of the geocentric and heliocentric system © History of Science Museum, University of Oxford
    Richard Rowley (attributed), Educational Model of the geocentric and heliocentric system © History of Science Museum, University of Oxford

CURATOR

Jan Van der Stock is a Belgian art historian and exhibition curator. Van der Stock is a full professor at KU Leuven, where he lectures on Medieval and Renaissance Art, the graphic arts, iconography, iconology, and curatorship. He is also the director of Illuminare – Center for Medieval and Renaissance Art (KU Leuven). As a curator, Van der Stock has organised numerous national and international exhibitions in Vienna (1991), Brussels (1985, 1991), St Petersburg (1996), Firenze (1996), Antwerp (1993, 1997), Paris (2013), and Leuven (2002, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2016).

Schermopname 90

PUBLICATION BIG BANG – IMAGINING THE UNIVERSE

In tandem with the début of the exhibitions Imagining the Universe at M Leuven and To the Edge of Time at KU Leuven University Library, comes the release of Big Bang – Imagining the Universe.

This book reveals how the universe – from the Neolithic Period to the present day – has captivated our imaginations. In pictures.

With essays by Barbara Baert, Abdelkader Benali, Thomas Hertog, Jan van der Stock, and many others, it will be available for purchase starting 22 October.

  • Copies are €49.95 at the M Leuven museum shops and KU Leuven University Library information desk.
  • Online, they are €44.95 with a BANG! Combo ticket purchase.
  • They go for €55 in bookshops.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Tickets

Available online or at the Leuven University Library information desk.

Purchase a BANG! combo ticket for an affordable visit to the M Leuven exhibits and the Leuven University Library exhibition.

Prices

  • Standard: € 12
  • Discount ticket: € 10
  • Combo ticket + M Leuven exhibition: €16

More information about discounts and groups.

Opening hours

  • Open on all weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • M Leuven is closed on Wednesdays.

Contact

M Leuven
Leopold Vanderkelenstraat 28
3000 Leuven
+32 (0)16 27 29 29
info@mleuven.be.

ANOTHER TIP!

At the Leuven University Library, ‘To the Edge of Time’ kicks off right where the M Leuven exhibition's story ends. The ground-breaking work of Leuven priest, mathematician, astronomer, and physicist, Georges Lemaître, is the unifying factor. His discovery of the Big Bang and its effect on modern cosmology is conveyed clearly and engagingly. Contemporary works of art harmoniously coexist with scientific objects that depict the key stages of the Big Bang theory and modern cosmology’s development.

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