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For Infinity: 400 Years of Science

In the exhibition For Infinity: 400 Years of Science, the University of Groningen takes visitors on a journey through academic teaching and research in Groningen and far beyond. The University was one of the ‘first crop’ of universities in the Netherlands. It was established in 1614, after Leiden (1575) and Franeker (1585), and before Utrecht (1636) and Harderwijk (1648). The exhibition is to commemorate its 400th anniversary.
The University of Groningen is one of the top European universities for teaching and research. For Infinity: 400 Years of Science uses objects, instruments and preparations to illustrate the University’s proud history. It also turns its attention to the present and the distant future in interactive exhibits, games, discussions and drama.
Developments often occur at the interface between different disciplines, which is why many of the University’s research groups are multidisciplinary in composition. This is reflected in the exhibition in the form of 12 modules that focus on everyday questions. In each module spokespeople from the present and past take the visitor by the hand and give their answers to the quest For Infinity.


©Dirk Fennema

©Dirk Fennema


Nijhoff’s Quintuplet

On Sunday 12 July 1903, a quintuplet is born, an unique feat. The children are born after 25 weeks of pregnancy: way too early. They are, as expected, not full grown and each baby weighs about 600 grams. After being born, they live for another hour and then die. The mother recovers well and resumes work after a fortnight. The quintuplet is donated to the obstetrician.
Dr. G. C. Nijhoff, professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University Hospital in Groningen, concludes that the quintuplet consists of an identical triplet and a bin ovular twin. He determines this, by researching the umbilical cords and the amnion. The baby's are photographed and after that submerged in a jar filled with a preservation fluid. The specimen is since then known as "the Quintuplet of Nijhoff".
In 1995 the then historical obstetrical collection of specimens is obsolete, it’s no longer useful for the education of students and physicians. New methods and needs leave the collection untended, neglected and put away in storage in a cellar. This neglect causes the decay, and ultimate the destruction of the quintuplet. Just a short time after that, the academic heritage is being conserved and treated as a real and valuable historical collection. Too late for Nijhoff's quintuplet: only a few photographs remain.


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