I am currently involved in the project Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives (2016-2020) which aims to develop an advanced and user-friendly online environment to search and interlink handwritten and illustrated archive collections. Core use case of the project is the archive of the Committee for Natural History of the Netherlands Indies (1820-1850). The project is financed by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the publisher BRILL in Leiden. It also involves natural history experts from Naturalis Biodiversity Center Leiden and computer scientists from the universities in Leiden (LIACS, LCDS) and Groningen (ALICE). In the past, I have undertaken various collaborative efforts to disclose this archive for historians, biodiversity researchers and a broader public.
Moreover, I am working a monograph with the working title Materials at work: Governing nature and society in the early nineteenth century Dutch Empire. The book consists of four biographies of materials and instruments (among which hydrometers) which allow to shed fresh light on how chemical and natural historical expertise tacitly shaped the relationship between insular Southeast Asia and the Netherlands in the early nineteenth century world. In the context of this project, I have co-curated an exhibition on the history of recycling and chemistry at Museum Boerhaave, the Dutch National Museum for the History of Science and Medicine. The exhibition has received an “honorable mention” in the competition for the Dibner Award of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). The Dibner Award is an annual award for excellence in museum exhibits.
Figure 1: Photograph taken in the depot of the Belastingmuseum in The Hague.
Figure 2: Drawing by Pieter van Oort / NCB Naturalis.