500 years Utopia
In 2016 it was exactly 500 years ago that Thomas More had his famous book Utopia printed in Leuven. This event spearheaded a festival that would last for four months and would immerse its visitors in utopian thinking.
Thomas More and his Utopia
In 1516, the first printed copy of the now renowned book Utopia rolled off the press: printer Dirk Martens printed it in Leuven. The book was written by Thomas More, an English humanist tired of corruption and mismanagement in his native country. His solution: an imaginary island, where happiness and justice prevail. Thomas More dared to imagine a new and different society. His Utopia heralded a new era for European thinking.
The Future is More
The 500th anniversary of the publication of Utopia inspired an ambitious city-wide festival in Leuven. Innovation and discovery were the central focus of the festival, which lasted for a period of four months. Led by the motto ‘The Future is More’, 55 Leuven based cultural organisations connected past and present.
During this festival, Leuven imagined and dreamed of positive change. Everyone was challenged, in their own way, to reflect on a better, more beautiful, and just city, and world. The diverse programme attracted both a variety of groups and interests. Those with a passion for art, could visit small and bigger exhibitions, children could recreate their own Utopia, and science, music, and gastronomy were enjoyed across the board.
Most talked about exhibition of 2016
The exhibition ‘In Search of Utopia’ in M-Museum Leuven, brought together no less than 90 masterpieces. The exhibition focused on those who visually envisioned paradise, feared the wrath of hell, and were seduced by an expanding horizon.
Prof. dr. Jan Van der Stock, curator, managed to bring together both Flemish painters such as Quinten Massys and Jan Gossaert, and European masters like Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein. A finely tuned selection of paintings, tapestries, scientific instruments, and illuminated manuscripts made this exhibition the most popular exhibition of 2016.
A well- thought- out journey from one masterpiece to the next *****
A record number of visitors
The diverse programme attracted some 220,000 participants. The exhibition ‘In Search of Utopia’ peaked at a staggering 90,137 visitors. A large international crowd found their way to Leuven.