From the Highest Point: Land Surveys in the Time of Mesdag

31 March–22 September 2019

Exhibition Overview

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Banner.Exploratory study of Terlet, Land Registry Museum, Arnhem.

In 1880, as Mesdag stood on the highest dune in Scheveningen making sketches for his Panorama, surveyors were criss-crossing the country to prepare a new map of the Netherlands.

Whether painter or surveyor, the two trades were united in wanting to seek out the highest point in the landscape, although one sought to create an optical illusion while the other wanted to measure distances. How did the approach taken by the artist and by scientists differ?

The exhibition kicks off with a surveying experiment at the Panorama to find out exactly where Mesdag was standing on the Seinpost dune. How accurate was he and how much artistic licence did he allow himself? The results of this ‘survey in the past’ are presented in the exhibition.

This exhibition is a unique opportunity for TU Delft Library to display its Special Collections in an off-campus setting. The exhibition literally maps out the history of surveying based on the instruments used, drawings, historical maps and scientific photographs. Digital and interactive maps show how the landscape has constantly changed from the time of Mesdag to the present day.

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