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Axis mundi

After the important rediscovery of a medieval chronicle in a German archive we were assigned to produce an exhibition about it. The chronicle by the name of Florarium Temporum was written in Eindhoven by the monk Nicolaas Clopper jr. in the year 1472. The book is an elaborate study and an attempt to write down all known world history starting with Genesis. The rediscovery of the chronicle is very significant to Eindhoven’s history and was accompanied by another discovery. In the University Library of Munich a second transcript was found that turned out to be the final edition. So now two long deemed lost books offer a treasure of information. Both books were not translated at the point of discovery because they were written in Medieval Latin; a language only few historians can unravel.

Our job was to develop an exhibition that places the book back in the collective mind of Eindhoven city. Quite a challenge for an untranslated book that you are not allowed to touch and has to be kept behind bulletproof glass in a strictly acclimatized box.

Together with some historians we collected as much information about the book, its author and the time and circumstances it was written in. Doing so we were able to put back the book in its historical context.

The lay-out of the exhibition is roughly based on the first page of the book. It shows our planetary system rotating around planet earth. The rings we used to explain the historical context. The outer ring represented the local daily life of the time. the trade, the agriculture, the hunger and epidemics of the time. The second ring showed the wars and quests of conquer at the time. The third ring showed the nobility and famous contemporaries of Nicolaas Clopper jr.

The last and inner ring showed the role of religion at the time and the status of the monks that wrote the manuscripts.

The whole production was one big adventure. Being able to work on projects like this are rare and a great experience to do. Working together with historians turned out to be very educational too. It is like taking part of the discovery itself.

20.000 people visited the exhibition. Placing the virtually unknown chronicles back into Eindhoven history.