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Exhibition of special models to celebrate 50th anniversary of Main Building

6 April 2023
On 12 April 1973, the VU main building was opened in the presence of former Queen Juliana. In honour of the 50th anniversary, Special Collections of the University Library is exhibiting its models in the special exhibition 'Grote Plannen in het Klein' (Big Plans on a Small Scale).

A grand vision in miniature format
In 1952, the decision to leave the city centre and house the university on the campus site in Buitenveldert resulted in a major building task. Architects who developed sketches for the building often had models made for their designs. These spatial models provided an attractive means for students, staff and other interested parties to paint a clear picture of the future university.

The models provide insight into realised and numerous unrealised buildings and sites. This makes them an indispensable part of the historical architectural archives and history of the VU. The Special Collections of the University Library is responsible for the maintenance of these models. With the help of a grant from the VU Association, all models were refurbished and restored especially for this exhibition.

Rediscovered designs & unrealised building projects
Two models in particular are very special. In 1960, the VU invited two architects, Zanstra and Nielsen, to design the main building and campus. They translated their design into spatial models, which until recently, were thought to be lost. The models are identical in scale and material to make it easy to compare the designs. Another unusual model dates back to 1972, when a design was made for a chapel. Interested parties raised a large sum of money for the chapel with the well-known green VU donation box. The model sadly remained just a model, as the chapel was never actually built. 

Would you like to learn more about the stories behind the models? Visit the exhibition in the heritage display (near the main entrance of the University Library) and the art display (on the ground floor opposite the student administration). Grote Plannen in het Klein runs from 12 April to the end of June.

Are you unable to visit the exhibition on campus? You can view the exhibition online.