Utrecht University Library exhibits Heavenly Discoveries from its collection

The oldest Hindustani grammar written by a Polish criminal, instructions to intercept a Spanish treasure-fleet, and a pirate’s chart. These are only a few of the treasures which will be exhibited by the Utrecht University Library.  From 27 April to 25 November the exhibition Hemelse Ontdekkingen (‘Heavenly Discoveries’) will take place in the Utrecht Museum Catharijneconvent: the most important discoveries made in the past few years at Utrecht University Library.

The exhibition shows manuscripts, old printed books and maps which have been discovered or investigated by students, researchers or curators, as well as newly acquired documents which will be exhibited for the very first time. Works that have been selected from the recent discoveries relate to Christianity, thus fitting in with the collections of the Catharijneconvent which hosts the exhibition.

‘Religion and science in Utrecht’ and ‘The earth in maps’

The first part of the exhibition has two themes: ‘Religion and science in Utrecht’ and ‘The earth in maps’.

From 27 April to 17 August the only leaf left from the sacramentary of the Utrecht bishop Odilbald (870-898) will be shown. Also on display is the Pontifical from the Utrecht Saint Mary’s Church, illuminated by the famous Master of Catharina of Cleves around 1450. In addition, the earliest Hindustani grammar in the world, written around 1700 by the Polish criminal Joan Josua Ketelaar, who made a career for himself in the Dutch East India Company. Also a number of maps will be shown, for instance one that explains how to plunder a Spanish treasure-fleet, signed by the explorer Abel Tasman. Another remarkable item is a rare Buginese pirate’s chart of the East Indian Archipelago.

The second part is completely dedicated to ‘Religion and Science in Utrecht’. From 25 August to 25 November the spectacular architectural drawings by Johannes Flentge can be admired. This mason was involved in the renovation of the Utrecht Dom during the thirties of the previous century. He made many drawings in order to fathom the geometric system of the Dom.

Most of these extraordinary documents can be found on the Special Collections website. Digitised and accompanied by the story of the new discoveries. Browse the pages of these precious works and zoom in to the tiniest details.


The exhibition Hemelse Ontdekkingen is organised in co-operation with the Museum Catharijneconvent (Lange Nieuwstraat 38, Utrecht). 

Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.