Conn3ct: three countries, one story

The Flanders Heritage Library and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands created Conn3ct: 2 media, 1 story, in close cooperation with the Provincial Library of Limburg and the University of Antwerp. This innovative exhibition brings early printed books and contemporary media together in one story.

Conn3ct can be visited in Antwerp, in the Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience, from 22 June to 17 September.

Discover the relationship between Twitter and pamphlets

What do printed books from the first half of the sixteenth century and social media such as Twitter and Facebook have in common? They are both mass media with a major impact on mankind and society. The invention of book printing around 1450 was revolutionary, but it took another 50 years before this new medium brought about radical social revolutions. For the first time, scholars, politicians and other educated citizens could spread their ideas rapidly, much faster than through letters or manuscripts. Today, social media fulfil the same role: tweets have an impact on the political debate, pictures cause strong emotions around the globe and vloggers make their voices heard.

Old books and new media

To illustrate this relationship, we selected 67 early sixteenth-century books from the collections of the partner libraries of the Flemish Heritage Library, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek and the Göttingen State and University Library. Conn3ct compares historical works of great thinkers and opinion makers such as Luther, Vives and Erasmus with tweets and posts by contemporary persons of influence such as Barack Obama and Malala Yousafzai.

Conn3ct exhibits heritage and media, but also offers an experience, with the exhibition itself functioning as a social medium. Visitors go on an interactive journey between historical printed matter and multimedia consoles. They log in to the exhibition installation and share their opinions and preferences with each other. They determine themselves how much information they want to reveal. This way, the influence and functioning of social media is made strikingly tangible.


Conn3ct is a contemporary exhibition in every sense of the word. We look at the past from the present, with modern concepts and social issues in mind. Furthermore, we invite visitors to freely switch from one theme to the other. This way they can construct their own story and interpretation. It explicitly responds to the browsing, fragmented, and intuitive way in which digital natives receive, search and process information today.

This digital generation, which has grown up between screens instead of books, is an important target group. We therefore asked students from creative and academic training programmes in the Netherlands and Flanders to cooperate in the development of the exhibition. They were challenged to create a bridge between old books and new media. The resulting ideas, recommendations, concepts and prototypes have been taken into account in the elaboration of the exhibition. With this experiment, the initiators hope to increase support for heritage libraries and their cultural heritage.

More information

Exhibition dates:

  • Paulinerkirche, Göttingen State and University Library (Göttingen, (G), 07.10.2016-18.12.2016)
  • Museum Meermanno (The Hague (NL), 25.02.2017-21.05-2017)
  • Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience (Antwerp (B), 22.06.2017-17.09.2017)
  • Provinciale Bibliotheek Limburg (Hasselt (B), 14.10.2017-29.04.2018)

Website Conn3ct