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Science Gallery Rotterdam

Open Call for projects, closes 1 July 2019

Exhibition: (UN)REAL



René Magritte, La reproduction interdite, 1937. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Photo: Studio Tromp

Funding available up to 4.000 Euros, details below



Apply Online at Science Gallery International


What is real, and how are you sure it is so? How often can your experiences be real if so many are digital and virtual or influenced by the chemistry and architecture of your brain? Scientific research uncovers ways that our minds and senses conspire to produce gaps between the actual and the perceived. How do we navigate these blind spots, which can be exploited by trickery like fake news, but then embraced willingly to escape reality, for pleasure in fantasy? And is our concept of the real transformed by biomedical science, which brings us new understanding of mental conditions like synesthesia, dementia, or phenomena like the placebo effect?


Science Gallery Rotterdam invites artists, designers, and researchers to explore how our concept of “the real” is destabilized by science and technology by proposing projects to be part of its first exhibition on site at Erasmus MC. The theme (UN)REAL addresses the questions above and also seeks to link them to the ongoing activity and cutting-edge research in biomedical science at the university medical center. Some of the topics and questions relevant to the theme include:


  • At what point does regenerative growth or human enhancement make an organ, limb, or body “fake”?

  • What does research into mind-altering diseases and experiences suggest about our everyday perceptions?

  • Are phantom limbs or optical illusions unique forms of neurological creativity, or are they coping mechanisms, or something else entirely?

  • Can phenomena such as lucid dreaming or the use of virtual reality result in meaningful experiences?


Your proposal could be to present a new or existing artwork, performance, workshop, research project, or other activity. Note that a central goal of Science Gallery Rotterdam is to produce content and programming to engage with 15–25 year-olds in the local community. There is both tension and creative possibility occupying the space between the real and unreal, so you are welcome to surprise us with proposals on topics outside of those listed as well. You might look to the history of art, including Surrealism, whose practitioners were fascinated by medical conditions, misperceptions, and dreaming.

Please consider the context of the exhibition: the public space of Erasmus MC, which features wide open areas, natural light and high ceilings (15 to 20 meters). More than 30.000 people per week on average move through the space for the exhibition, including patients, visitors, employees, and medical students. For an impression of the building, and its garden atrium see: , or



Dates for Exhibition and Programming:

Beginning March, 2020

Key words:
genetics, illusion, surrealism, human enhancement, regenerative medicine, mental conditions, misperception

Funding between 1.000 and 4.000 euro may be available, including all artist fees, materials, equipment, and shipping. Please note projects of larger scale may be considered if additional partners and funding can be secured. Five grants will be made available for proposals from the Rotterdam community.


Curatorial team and advisors:

  • William Myers, Curator, author of Bioart and Biodesign

  • Ove Lucas, Director CBK, Rotterdam

  • Dr. Paul van de Laar, General Director, Museum Rotterdam

  • Dr. Fred Balvert, Head of Congress Agency, Erasmus MC

  • Dr. Joyce Lebbink, Associate Professor, Erasmus MC

  • Sanne Kloosterboer, PhD Candidate, Clinical Pharmacology, Erasmus MC



If your proposal is selected, we will urge you to participate at least in one of the workshops on site with artists, designers, scientist, and young people from Rotterdam. Schedule TBD.



Please use the Science Gallery online submission system. You can email questions to:



How big is the exhibition space?
The open public areas of Erasmus MC dedicated for the pop-up installation is approximately 350 square meters, with ceiling heights between 15 and 20 meters.

How many projects will be included?
In total between 10-12 proposals will be accepted and produced for the exhibition, with the potential for a further 10-20 collaborations, talks, debates, and performances possible for the live program.  

Who can apply? 

Anyone. There are no restrictions on age, education level, or any other factor. 

Can individuals or groups and collaborations apply?
We welcome submissions of interest from individuals, groups, collaborative projects and productions working internationally. We would also appreciate hearing from groups currently under-represented within the arts and sciences, groups working locally, and 15–25 year-olds.


Read More about Science Gallery Rotterdam, the newest addition to the Science Gallery Network. The image above is a rendering of the space to be built over the next three years. In the interim, exhibitions will be staged in the public throughways of the Erasmus MC which opens onto the Museumplein in Rotterdam.

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