Three huge world-class exhibitions will open to the public at M Leuven and KU Leuven University Library on Friday, 22 October. What ties it all together is a shared sense of wonder for the cosmos and its origins.

Did the Universe have a beginning? Will it ever come to an end? Where do humans fit in the grand scheme of things? For thousands of years, we have projected these fundamental questions onto the starry sky, turning to mythology, religion, art, and the sciences to help us unravel the mysteries of our origins and far future. The main BANG! City Festival exhibitions offer myriad perspectives on this theme that has captured imaginations throughout the ages. From the ancient figurines created 5,000 years before Christ to newly commissioned immersive contemporary artworks that respond to the most radical cosmological theories – BANG! has something for everyone.

Deputy Mayor for Culture and Co-Chair of KU[N]ST Leuven, Denise Vandevoort explains why the BANG! City Festival exhibitions are so phenomenal: ‘The exhibitions are the fundamental crowd-pullers of BANG! City Festival. There are masterpieces from Belgium and abroad to be discovered, and work by internationally renowned contemporary artists and promising young talent on display. And all of it centres around our shared sense of wonder at the cosmos.’

Bart Raymaekers, Adviser to the Rector for Culture, Art and Heritage at KU Leuven and Co-Chair of KU[N]ST Leuven adds: ‘The hybridisation of science and art puts the university town of Leuven on the world map as a knowledge and innovation centre. And the father of the Big Bang Theory, Leuven Professor Georges Lemaître, and his ground-breaking research are at the centre of it all. Top KU Leuven scientists are collaborating on the exhibitions and the entire BANG! City Festival programme, and that makes for a unique ambience and dynamic.’


> Date: FRI 22.10.21 -> SUN 16.01.2022
> Location: KU Leuven University Library

The exhibition, To the Edge of Time, blends scientific insights and modern and contemporary works of art in weird and wonderful ways. 

The theory of the Big Bang unites the work of three brilliant European scientists, German-born physicist Albert Einstein and his ground-breaking theory of relativity, Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître and his discovery of our expanding universe, and British cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who used the work of his predecessors as the building blocks of his Multiverse Theory. 

To the Edge of Time demonstrates how a sense of awe yields new and sometimes radical, mind-boggling insights. Scientific objects lift the veil on how cosmologists uniquely approach and process information and manifest new, trailblazing ideas. Explore the origins of the Big Bang theory in Georges Lemaître’s sketches; read originals letters penned by Albert Einstein, and seize a one-of-a-kind opportunity to decipher Stephen Hawking's mysterious blackboard of equations.

On the art side, it's clear that artists look at the universe and our role in it in poetic, idiosyncratic, provocative, and sometimes downright funny ways. What ties these multiple perspectives together is an endless awe of the cosmos and a fervent desire to understand it better.

To the Edge of Time presents works by internationally renowned artists and young, up-and-coming talent. Exhibition artists include: Haseeb Ahmed, Phoebe Boswell, Constantin Brâncuși, Rohini Devasher, Maurits Cornelis Escher, Andy Holden, Gavin Jantjes, Jackie Karuti, Melanie King, John Latham, Liliane Lijn, London Fieldworks, René Magritte, Kazimir Malevich, Cornelia Parker, Katie Paterson, Dawit L. Petros, Sarah Pickering, Leo Robinson, Semiconductor, Conrad Shawcross, Clare Strand, Thomson & Craighead, Stephan Tillmans, Suzanne Treister, Troika, Georges Vantongerloo, Jeronimo Voss, Mark Wallinger, Charmaine Watkiss, Grace Weir, and Ni Youyu.

Curators: Thomas Hertog (KU Leuven) and Hannah Redler Hawes (freelance curator London, UK)
Link to the webpage


> Date: FRI 22.10.21 -> SUN 16.01.2022
> Location: M Leuven

Imagining the Universe is rooted in the eternal sense of wonder inspired by the cosmos and explores how this manifested in Europe and the Middle East – from the prehistoric era to the 18th century and the Age of Reason.

What is our place in the universe? Mythology, religion, science, and the visual arts – all have come up with different answers to this fundamental question, ranging from the formulaic to the fantastic. A hundred incontrovertible masterpieces catch our timeless awe in the act.

The exhibition opens with the timeless tradition of stargazing, of humanity wondering what those points of light can tell us about the origin, shape, and meaning of the vast and unfathomable universe. A series of spaces offer a fascinating glimpse into the wide range of answers that have been posited to these pivotal questions over the centuries. Geographically speaking, the exhibition runs the gamut, from the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions to Muslim and Arab scientists who catapulted astronomy light years into the future.

Next up is a discovery of incredible depictions of the zodiac, intriguing calendars, mind-boggling worldviews, and baffling horoscopes that illustrate humankind’s age-old fascination with the predictive possibilities of celestial cycles.

The arrival of trailblazers Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton on the scene and their new observations and innovative ideas put old beliefs to the test. Telescopes and meticulously precise calculations led to new insights and heralded fundamental, often ground-shattering shifts in human understanding.

This breathtaking exhibition displays masterpieces from over 45 Belgian and international collections, including the London National Gallery, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Madrid's Patrimonio Nacional, and the Vatican Museums. For several pieces, this will be their very first showing in Belgium, with some having undergone conservation treatment especially for the exhibition. 

Curator: Jan Van der Stock and KU Leuven’s team Illuminare
Link to the webpage


> Date: FRI 22.10.21 -> SUN 20.03.2022
> Location: M Leuven

Imagining the Universe isn’t the only cosmos-inspired exhibition at Museum M. Richard Long's solo exhibition will also be debuting. This internationally renowned British artist is enthralled by the universe and sees it, in addition to nature, as one of his main sources of inspiration.

Long repurposes natural materials such as stone and wood in his sculptures, as archetypes of the universe and the cosmos. He often makes them underway, on his long walks, as traces of his passing and transformation. The geometric shapes that make up these pieces simultaneously emphasise the order and multiplicity of the cosmos. They can be taken as metaphors for existence and an expression of his thoughts on places, travel, distance, time, space, and movement.

Monumental sculptures enter an intriguing conversation with photography and textworks at M. Richard Long is also creating two new mudworks especially for this event. The works are made of mud, applied by Richard Long  – quite literally – by hand. His process is simple and intuitive; he applies mud to the wall, allowing it to splatter and drip down under gravity’s influence. The mudworks allude to basic elements of the universe – a planet, soil, and water.

Curator: Eva Wittocx (M Leuven)
Link to the webpage


> Date: FRI 15.10.21 -> SUN 16.01.2022
> Location: PARCUM (Park Abbey)

PARCUM’s An Eternal Gaze exhibition debuted on 15 October.

The enigma of our origins, the meaning of life, and the mystery of how it all ends are as old as humankind. An Eternal Gaze explores how various religious and spiritual walks have approached life's fundamental questions and looks at how religious heritage has played a role in making sense of it all. Dutch author Marjolijn van Heemstra shares sharp reflections on the exhibition’s artefacts and themes.

Curator: Liesbet Kusters (PARCUM)
Link to the webpage










BANG! Big Bang City Festival is a four-month programme celebrating the intersection of art and science. What ties it all together is a shared sense of wonder for the cosmos and its origins. Why this theme? It seemed like the right time to rectify a blind spot in our collective memory, i.e. hardly anyone seems to know that the Big Bang Theory was authored by professor Georges Lemaître in Leuven. Reinforced by a collab of over 120 partners, the BANG! Leuven City Festival guarantees a brand new Big Bang in Leuven this autumn and winter.

The City Festival is a KU[N]ST Leuven initiative, a joint venture between KU Leuven and the City of Leuven. It is funded by the Flemish Government, Visit Flanders and the Belgian National Lottery.

Visit for more information.  

Available for interviews (contact [email protected] for an appointment):

  • Thomas Hertog, co-curator of To the Edge of Time and Full Professor of Theoretical Physics at KU Leuven
  • Hannah Redler Hawes, co-curator of To the Edge of Time and freelance curator, London (UK)
  • Jan Van der Stock, curator of Imagining the Universe, Full Professor of Art History at KU Leuven & Director of Illuminare at KU Leuven
  • Richard Long, artist, Bristol (UK)
  • Eva Wittocx, curator of the Richard Long exhibition and Head of Contemporary Art at M Leuven
  • Lien De Keukelaere, Coordinator of the BANG! Big Bang City Festival, KU[N]ST Leuven
  • Denise Vandevoort, the City of Leuven’s Deputy Mayor for Culture Leuven, Co-Chair of KU[N]ST Leuven, and Chairwoman of M Leuven
  • Bart Raymaekers, Adviser to the Rector for Culture, Art and Heritage at KU Leuven and Co-Chair of KU[N]ST Leuven

Press file: To the Edge of Time

PDF - 5.0 Mb

Press file: Imagining the Universe

DOCX - 290 Kb

Press file: Richard Long

DOCX - 517 Kb

Denise Vandevoort

the City of Leuven’s Deputy Mayor for Culture Leuven, Co-Chair of KU[N]ST Leuven, and Chairwoman of M Leuven, KU[N]ST Leuven

Bart Raymaekers

Adviser to the Rector for Culture, Art and Heritage at KU Leuven and Co-Chair of KU[N]ST Leuven, KU[N]ST Leuven

Lien De Keukelaere

Coordinator of the BANG! Big Bang City Festival, KU[N]ST Leuven

Lucie Rullaud

Press Officer BANG! & Communications Manager, KU[N]ST Leuven

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.

About KU[N]ST Leuven

BANG! is a KU[N]ST Leuven vzw initiative, a joint venture between KU Leuven and the City of Leuven. Every two years, KU[N]ST Leuven vzw organises a special themed city-wide project. KU[N]ST Leuven teams up with actors from the cultural, scientific, and tourist sectors to develop an exciting programme that approaches the theme from different angles and fields.