CHAPTER 4: THE UNIVERSE IN YOUR HAND

In the search of Utopia

The universe in your hand

Part 4

Dreams of space and time

In the fourth and last section of the exhibition In Search of Utopia you will experience a sublime final chord. The desire for the ideal world was given new dimensions in art. People wanted to understand the universe and eternity better, not merely to believe. They turned the armillary sphere on its head themselves, as it were, and assiduously started looking for their Utopia. Science and art fuse together in one grandiose form. People hold the universe in their hand, just like Jan Gossaert portrayed the young princess. What is more: if a child dares to attempt it, why should we still hesitate?

 

Utopia is synonymous with the search for the boundaries of the universe. Science naturally gave this search a tremendous impulse. The exhibition will introduce you to original scientific measuring instruments made in Leuven in the 16th century. At that period, Leuven was a leading city for the production of armillary spheres and astrolabes. These instruments measured the height and location of the heavenly bodies. Gerard Mercator, Gemma Frisius and Gualterus Arsenius turned these navigational tools into astonishing little works of art. In Search of Utopia has brought together no fewer than five of the seven surviving armillary spheres. They have come to Leuven from across the world. This is a very special and important event because they are being exhibited in Leuven together for the first time. So and come and dream of space and time while In Search of Utopia.