Museums and (the loss of) the encyclopedic ideal — Teylers Museum

Museums and (the loss of) the encyclopedic ideal

International conference hosted by Teylers Museum

20 april 2017 t/m 22 april 2017

On April 20, 21 and 22 of this year, Teyler’s Museum in Haarlem shall be host to a two-day conference about museums and the loss of the encyclopedic ideal in the 19th and 20th  centuries, taking its venue, a well-preserved 18th century museum as our point of reference. 


Please register for the conference through this page first. After your submission you'll be redirected to the ticket page to complete your registration and secure your participation.

About Teylers Museum

Today, Teyler’s Museum in Haarlem is one of the few public institutions in the world to display a wide variety of collections, including objects of both the arts and sciences, in its original building and original setting. Its roots lie in the last will of the wealthy Mennonite merchant and banker Pieter Teyler van der Hulst (1702-1778). In his testament Teyler had stipulated that a foundation was to be established which would employ his fortune to the support of theology on the one hand, and the arts and sciences on the other. 

About the conference

The conference will deal with the question of how the relationship between science and religion, between the visual cultures of art and science, and between religion, ethics and aesthetics has changed over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, and how this affected each of these categories? How did such categories as ‘science’, ‘art’ and ‘the public’ emerge in this process? How did the universal scientist give way to the modern expert? How did research and pedagogy get disentangled? What meanings were attached to the word ‘museum’ and how did these change over time? To what extent can we speak of the creation of clear and meaningful boundaries in this process of differentiation and to what extent is the change merely cosmetic? And last but not least: do we witness a fading of such boundaries again today?


The conference is subdivided into 4 sessions:

  1.  Teyler’s as a link in a international network, or ‘knowledge hub’.
  2. Physicotheology, bible criticism and the development of new scientific ideas.
  3. The waning of encyclopedism and the advent of specialised disciplines in a museum context.
  4. Fine art in a scientific museum - connections, tensions and possibilities.

The conference is to be opened on the evening of Thursday, April 20th, with a public lecture by Prof. Wijnand Mijnhardt (Utrecht). The next two days (Friday and Saturday, April 21st and 22nd) are devoted to the conference itself. Conference visitors will be offered a guided tour through the museum in the afternoon preceding Prof. Mijnhardt’s address on the 20thPlease consult this link for a more detailed description of the programme.

Conference fee

The regular fee for the conference is €50. Students can apply for a free ticket. To apply, please send  with a copy of your student card. 

More information

You may address any  questions to Ilja Nieuwland at Teyler’s Museum:; tel. 0031-623407807.


The conference ‘Museums and (the loss of) the encyclopedic ideal, 1785-2016‘ takes  place with the financial support of:

  • The Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences
  • Teyler’s Museum
  • Teylers Stichting
  • The Louise Thijssen-Schoute Foundation 

The conference Museums and (the loss of) the encyclopedic ideal, 1785-2016, is organised by:

  • Eric Jorink (Huygens ING; Teyler Professor Enlightenment and Religion, Leiden University)
  • Frans van Lunteren (Teyler Professor History of Science, Leiden University)
  • Debora Meijers (visiting researcher, University of Amsterdam)
  • Michiel Plomp (Teyler's Museum, Chief Curator of art collections)
  • Trienke van der Spek (Teyler's Museum, Chief Curator science collections) 

Koop je tickets online