Location: Nina van Leer room in the Allard Pierson Museum, Oude Turfmarkt 127-129, 1012 GC in Amsterdam.
Date: 3 June 2022
Time: 15h-18h
The lecture is freely accessible, but please register here (the form is in Dutch).
The lecture will be in Dutch.

B-magic spokesperson and head coordinator Kurt Vanhoutte gave the Huygens-Descartes Lecture 2022, titled De magische lantaarn en het spektakel van de wetenschap ('The Magic Lantern and the Spectacle of Science'). You can watch it in full here:

The full Huygens-Descartes lecture 2022 by Kurt Vanhoutte (in Dutch)

Scientists and entertainers, teachers and priests, politicians and obscurantists: in the second half of the nineteenth century, they all made enthusiastic use of the revolutionary magic lantern as a medium to inform, teach, and amuse. Not infrequently, they drew audiences of over a thousand people at a time. In a certain sense, modernity laid the foundations for film, but also for the slide projector and its current digital variants.When Christiaan Huygens was one of the first in western history to create a magic lantern, the scientist could not have imagined its impact. At first, it looked like nothing more than a tin casing containing an oil lamp and three lenses between which a painted glass plate could be slid. More than two hundred years later, however, Huygens' invention would grow into a visual mass medium. In the meantime, and shortly after the French Revolution, the eccentric figure of Étienne Gaspard Robertson had already managed to enrapture a large audience with his specially designed lanterne de peur. Paris was bathed in the blood of terror and Robertson's projections summoned the dead to rise from the grave. But with these macabre shows, the story of the lantern was far from fully being told.

Kurt Vanhoutte (UAntwerpen)  that story on 3 June, with the help of a real magic lantern. The Huygens Institute (KNAW) and the Descartes Centre (UU) invite you to be present and experience the images, sounds, and smells of authentic, nineteenth-century science popularisation.


Kurt Vanhoutte (1971) is professor of theatre studies at the University of Antwerp and coordinator of B-magic, a large-scale interdisciplinary project (EOS - Excellence of Science) that investigates the impact of the magic lantern on Belgium and the surrounding countries. His lecture will discuss the function, the workings, and the range of the magic lantern. Vanhoutte invites lanternist and collector Ditmar Bollaert, together with Els Prevenier, which will perfectly complement his lecture with the authentic lantern and original glass slides. In this way, the public will witness the double effect that the lantern has had for centuries, where two become one: science and entertainment, spectacle and instruction.