In the exhibition you will see works from 1500 to the present day. One of the oldest is the family tree of Emperor Charles V from c. 1535 by Robert Péril. It is a woodcut of almost 7 metres. There are also works by contemporary artists. You can see ‘Gunkan Jima’ by Sanne Peper, a photograph of 125 x 178 cm and ‘The night clouds are driving the forgotten along’ by Jacobien de Rooij, a drawing of 306 x 606 cm.

The discovery of the 23-metre-long landscape is the biggest discovery. It had been lying rolled up in the depot for decades without anyone knowing what it was. In the database, it was registered as a wallpaper. During the preparations for the exhibition, we rolled it out and examined it for the first time. The landscapes in bright pastel colours turned out to be hand-painted, and small holes in the top of the paper raised doubts about whether this was a wallpaper at all.

Archive research showed that it was part of the Giant Cylorama, a moving panorama of no less than one and a half kilometres (!) long with landscapes from Switzerland, Austria and Italy. It was commissioned by the German entrepreneur Ferdinand Reichardt in the mid-19th century and painted by several Berlin set designers. Reichardt travelled with it through the Netherlands, Belgium and England and gave full-length performances that took the audience on a journey through the south of Europe.

Paper was also frequently used as a working material. There are, for instance, cartoons, full-size design drawings of stained-glass windows and a tapestry. The enormous cartoons for the windows of the Sint Bavo Church in Haarlem date from the 16th century. The cartoons for the windows of the Dom church in Utrecht were designed by Richard Roland Holst in the early 20th century. These enormous works are not only impressive to look at, but also illustrate that in 400 years, the craft of making stained glass windows has hardly changed.

Gunkan Jima, 2008 by Sanne Peper (digital print on 100% cotton paper, 145 x 200 cm) is part of the series Black Noise [A Trinity Trilogy].

Article Wall Street Journal, read here