New journeys of discovery through history in Historical Evidence – Historical Evidence

Historical evidence / 26 August 2022

Were the moon cliffs, which are in the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden, actually taken by Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission? In a new season of Historical Evidence, a team of experts sets out to answer these and four other questions. They do everything they can to get to the bottom of a groundbreaking study.

the moonstone

It is in the middle of the 20th century that a space race takes place between the Russians and the Americans in the middle of the Cold War. It is the Americans who finally set foot on the moon on July 16, 1969. US President Richard Nixon gives heads of state a tangible proof of their superiority: moon cliffs. Queen Juliana also receives this gift. But were the moon cliffs, which are in the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden, actually taken by Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission?

relics

In a new season of Historical Evidence, a team of experts sets out to find the answer to this question. Other relics they research are Willem Barentsz’s flag (Rijksmuseum), Willemsorde by Van Speijk (Navy Museum), Judith van Dort’s blindfold (Rijksmuseum) and Grutte Piers sword (Fries Museum). Were they the silent witnesses to a crucial moment in history? And what story do these relics tell?

The team that revives history with these studies once again consists of Martine Gosselink, historian and director of Mauritshuis, Robert van Langh, head of Conservation & Science at the Rijksmuseum and Stephanie Archangel, curator of history at the Rijksmuseum.

Innovative research

The education combines scientific and materials technology research with historical archive and source research. Also in this second series, everything is pulled out to get as close as possible to the historical events; from simulation of large explosions to microscopic dust and color research.

Robert van Langh: “We are working again with many people and institutions. This makes the stories rich and provides new and refreshing insights. For example, I go to the University of Manchester to research the exact composition of the moonstone and for the research into the William Order military by Jan Van Speijk, experts from the NFI and the defense imitate the explosion on his ship. ”

Historical significance

Exploring the origins of objects is also a journey of discovery through history, a unique opportunity to retell the stories of the past.

Martine Gosselink: “Whether the object was created afterwards or really was part of the story: the whole story around the object makes it a relic. Thanks to the sword from the Grutte Pier, for example, we now have the opportunity to dive into a lesser known but important period in Dutch history and interpret the meaning of the Grutte Pier in Friesland then and now. That alone is incredibly valuable. ”

Being allowed to do archival research in the icy cold, near Nova Zembla, adds another dimension to the story.

Stephanie Archangel

Archive survey on site

The team will not only stay in the Netherlands, but will also travel to Tromsø in Norway to investigate whether the flag fragments in the Polar Museum belong to the same flag as the flag fragments in the Rijksmuseum, and whether the flags on Willem Barentsz ‘ship waved.

Stephanie Archangel: “Being allowed to do archival research in the icy cold, near Nova Zembla, adds another dimension to the story. By seeing and feeling the harsh conditions under which Barentsz and his crew were to survive for 10 months; it gives a completely different meaning to all the facts and figures in the documents that I searched for in the archive. ”

Scientific recognition

The Dutch scientific research organization awarded the episode on Hugo de Groot’s bookcase with the NWO Team Science Award 2021. The Team Science Award rewards researchers from different disciplines who together take up a scientific challenge where their individual strengths and expertise demonstrably reinforce each other.

The question was: Can one of the three book coffins in the Rijksmuseum, Museum Prinsenhof Delft and Castle Loevestein be considered the coffin in which Hugo de Groot managed to escape his eternal prison sentence in Loevestein Castle in 1621?
Centrum Wiskunde en Informatica, University of Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum and Leiden University worked together to determine the origin of Hugo de Groot’s three potential bookcases using techniques that had never been used before.

Historical evidence from 26 August at 22.10 at AVROTROS at NPO 2

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