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The Dutch Elon Musk: Sibrand Stratingh

By Colin Janssen and Éva Szabó
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This summer (2022), the Department of Special Collections in the University of Groningen Library unveiled its online exhibition about Sibrand Stratingh (1785-1841). Inspired by Ulco Kooystra's recently published dissertation, The Chemistry Artist. The Innovative Science of Sibrand Stratingh Ez, Professor in Groningen, Colin Janssen and Éva Szabó curated this exhibition. During their MA-studies History Today, they worked as interns at Special Collections in collaboration with David Veltman and the University of Groningen Museum. This exhibition is made through esri ArcGIS StoryMaps.

Stratingh's second cart, manufactured by Willem Deutgen
Stratingh's second cart, manufactured by Willem Deutgen

Sibrand Stratingh was a chemist and inventor from Groningen who developed the so-called ‘Karretje van Stratingh’ (Stratingh's Little Cart). This ‘little cart’ is an early predecessor of the electric car. Stratingh’s contributions to science were known both on a national and international scale. This new online exhibition shows letters, portraits, models, drawings, and other objects. The majority of visuals used in the exhibition belong to the University Library or the University Museum. Other institutes that provided visuals are the Groningen Archives and the Dutch National Archives.

In the exhibition, Stratingh’s work is placed in its academic, cultural and social context. Furthermore, specific attention is paid to Stratingh’s academic network and to networking in the 19th century. By focussing on networking, the exhibition provides a contrasting perspective, allowing for comparisons to be made between academic connections and/or networking in the past and in the present. How did these connections and networks function? How did the medium of networking change through time? Why is this process still important in today’s academic world, possibly more than ever?

Engraving of Stratinghs first draft of an electric cart
Engraving of Stratingh's first draft of an electric cart
Last modified:21 October 2022 2.21 p.m.
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