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On 21 March 2024, a new exhibition about black holes will open its doors at Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in Leiden. Jeroen van Dongen and Emilie Skulberg, historians of science at the UvA Institute of Physics, are guest curators of the exhibition. On the occasion of the opening of the exhibition, on Saturday 23 March, Van Dongen will give the lecture (in Dutch) “Zwarte gaten; van raadsel en theorie tot tentoonstelling”.
Approaching the Black Hole

Black holes are mysterious regions in our cosmos that swallow up everything around them, and from which nothing, not even light, can escape. They might well be the most exciting phenomena in the universe, and even scientists still do not understand everything about them. The new exhibition “Approaching the Black Hole” at Rijksmuseum Boerhaave guides the visitor through this fascinating matter step by step. Besides physics components, the exposition also contains historical ones, including pieces of scientists like Hawking, Einstein, Oppenheimer and Penrose. The exhibition can be visited from Thursday 21 March 2024 until 5 January 2025.

From puzzle and theory to exhibition

Jeroen van Dongen
Jeroen van Dongen

In his lecture (in Dutch) on the occasion of the opening of the exposition, exemplified by objects from the exhibition, Van Dongen discusses how scientists came to the conclusion that some stars implode to black holes and the end of their lives; why Einstein did not believe this would happen, and how black holes still pose major questions to scientists. He also discusses how the arts and well-known images may help us to better envision black holes.

Jeroen van Dongen is a professor in the History of Science at the Universiteit of Amsterdam, as well as co-director at the Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences. Before this, he worked at the California Institute of Technology as editor of Albert Einstein’s collected works.

Emilie Skulberg
Emilie Skulberg

Emilie Skulberg is a historian of science, who obtained her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2021, on the creation of the famous first image of a black hole by the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration. After obtaining her PhD, she joined the UvA Institute of Physics through a fellowship of the Dutch Black Hole Consortium.

Together, Van Dongen and Skulberg are guest curators for Rijksmuseum Boerhaave’s exhibition “Approaching the Black Hole”.

Practical information and registration

The lecture takes place on Saturday, 23 March from 3pm-4pm, and can be attended either in the museum’s lecture room or online via a live stream. Participation in the live stream is free; attending the lecture in the museum is free by showing a valid entrance ticket (either a museum ticket or an annual museum card or student card). If you are interested, please register to attend the lecture (also for the live stream) through the link below.