Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us Latest news News News articles

70 microscopes at celebration marking 70 years of the Nobel Prize

Zernike family donates microscope from family archive
23 October 2023
Photo of Frits Zernike
Frits Zernike

On 3 and 4 November, the University of Groningen will celebrate the platinum anniversary of the Nobel Prize in Physics for Frits Zernike, inventor of the phase-contrast microscope. On 3 November, a symposium and public lecture will take place, and on 4 November the entire province will join in the celebration. On that day, everyone can discover the micro-world thanks to microscopes that will be set up at almost 70 special places in the city of Groningen and the surrounding areas. Visitors are encouraged to bring something of their own to be examined under the microscope. One of the microscopes is a donation from the Zernike family archive.

Zernike family donates microscope

Ten of the locations that are participating in the Microscope Day, will feature a phase-contrast microscope from the internationally-renowned Zeiss company, based on Frits Zernike's invention for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1953. Visitors to the University Museum can admire a gem: A microscope from the Zernike family archive will be on display there. Grandson Frits Zernike will hand it over to outgoing Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf of Education, Culture and Science in the Academy Building, one day prior to the event.

A day for the general public: from the Bourtange Fortress to the windmills

The 70 Microscope Day locations are spread all over the province of Groningen. For instance, the Fortress Bourtange has brought medieval nails from the attic to be examined. The visitor centres of the Groninger Landschap are in the midst of the countryside and are surrounded by all kinds of research subjects for a closer look under the lens. In the city of Groningen the Hortus Botanicus, a true hotspot for microscopy, participates as well. The windmills at Noorderhogebrug and Usquert will also be participating in the day for the general public. In addition, all Groningen libraries that are open on Saturday will participate. There will be a lecture by microscope artist Wim van Egmond from 8 until 9 p.m. at the Hoogezand library. The electron microscopy centres of both the UMCG and the UG will also be open. Guided tours for groups of up to 30 people will be organized there. Registration is required. All locations are listed on  

Photo of children with microscope

Lasting memento

The microscopes will be a lasting memento of the festivities for the participating institutions, as they will remain in the possession of the institutions, which can continue to use them in the future. All primary schools and libraries in the province will also receive a lesson plan on microscopy, Nobel Prizes and Zernike’s work.


Prior to the day for the general public, there will be a symposium on 3 November, comprising a daytime programme with various lectures on Zernike, his invention, his contemporaries and the awarding of the Nobel Prize for his work. In the evening his grandson Frits Zernike will speak in the Academy Building, among others. The entire programme can be viewed on the UG website.


In this video, together with Theo Jurriëns, we visit two special locations in the province of Groningen where you can find a microscope during the microscopy public day on 4 November. Are you also curious to know what the locations will do with the microscope, what else there will be to do on 4 November and how you can win a microscope yourself? Watch the video!

More information

Contact Theo Jurriens.

Last modified:25 October 2023 2.09 p.m.
View this page in: Nederlands

More news