Travelling in foreign parts: exhibition Wageningen UR Library

Published on
March 25, 2011

With summer in view, many of us are looking forward to a well-earned holiday, are planning a trip to an exotic island or are preparing for a long walking tour. But, while you’re still waiting for that break, you can lose yourself in the history of travel in earlier times. The exhibition “Travelling in foreign parts” presents a selection of unique and beautifully illustrated travel accounts, prints, journals, and travel and walking guides from 1650 to 1930 from the library’s collection. The selection covers three themes: extended journeys, study and cultural tours in Europe, and walking in the Netherlands.

Extended journeys to distant lands were mostly made for trade or ‘at the command of the king’. Politics and a country’s interests played an important role in these trips; many were undertaken to the former Dutch colonies. Travel accounts were published as journals or as reports to the commissioning authority. The drive to gather scientific knowledge and to learn about far-away cultures was also a motive for undertaking long journeys.

In the 17thcentury, the "Grand Tour" became fashionable in the Netherlands. A Grand Tour was an educational and extended tour through Europe for the well-to-do bourgeoisie. Slowly, the grand tour developed into "summer trips", shorter pleasure trips in the Netherlands or in neighbouring countries.

Walking developed from “walking to get from here to there” to recreational pleasure. Over time, people no longer saw nature as simply savage and dangerous but as offering the possibility of enjoyment and relaxation. You see examples of accounts from travelling ministers, books about group walking tours and walking routes.

Several of the exhibited books are digitally available, like the famous Bilder-Atlas from 1888 by Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje, an Arabist and the first European who made beautiful photos in Mecca, or Beschrijving van Guiana, of de Wilde Kust in Zuid-America (Description of Guiana, or the Wilde Coast in South America) by Jan Jacob Hartsinck from 1770.

15 April to 15 September 2011, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm
Special Collections Reading Room, Forum (bldg. 102) Droevendaalsesteeg 2, Wageningen

For more information, contact Special Collections/ Joke Webbink, tel.0317-482701 / 0317-482144.

(newsletter 2-2011)