press releases

Press release 5 July 2022

Smallest work of art in the world for 3 weeks in Museum De Lakenhal

From 5 to 31 July 2022 Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden will display the smallest work of art in the world: a 3D-printed statue of Rembrandt van Rijn, made by sculptor Jeroen Spijker together with researchers from Leiden University. On Rembrandt's birthday, 15 July, Jeroen Spijker will be in the museum to answer questions from visitors about the science behind the work. On this special day Museum De Lakenhal offers free admission and a special activity programme for families.

In honour of Leiden European City of Science 2022, Jeroen Spijker together with physicists of Leiden University, has made a micro statue of Rembrandt out of polymer with a layer of platinum. The sculpture is only 28 micrometers high, about a third of the thickness of a human hair, and made with a 3D printer. This makes it the smallest work of art in the world, explains Jeroen Spijker.

From 5 to 31 July 2022, the sculpture will be on display in Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden. Visitors can experience that it cannot be seen with the naked eye. The sculpture is presented in the same hall as paintings by Rembrandt. Visitors can also watch a short film about the making of the sculpture.

Art from the lab

Spijker worked together with Dr Daniela Kraft and Dr Rachel Doherty of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of Leiden University. The basis was a bronze statue of Rembrandt that Spijker made earlier. That image was digitally scanned and then printed as small as possible with a 3D printer. Jeroen Spijker: 'I wanted to realise a sculpture that I could still accept as a work of art with my signature. Anything smaller would have resulted in too many distortions.'

For Leiden University this was not the first miniature work. In 2020, using the same 3D printer, the research group of Kraft and Doherty made the smallest boat in the world that could even sail. This was just a little bit bigger than Rembrandt, namely 30 micrometres.

Such small creations are not only fun challenges, but also help scientific research. Kraft and Doherty are researching micro-swimmers: microscopic particles that move independently through a liquid. They print these microswimmers themselves with a very accurate 3D printer. 'With the Rembrandt project, we learn what the limits of our devices are,' says Doherty. 'How small can we print?'

Programme for families

On Friday 15 July, Rembrandt van Rijn's birthday, Museum De Lakenhal is offering free admission, courtesy of the City of Leiden. Jeroen Spijker will be in the museum to talk about his micro-scultpure.

For families with children there are a variety of activities throughout the day. In the children's lecture, children will learn how to become a true Rembrandt expert. There is a ‘Rembrandt upside down’ workshop, playful family tours and the Family Trail, an exciting journey of discovery through the museum. Please note that all activities are in Dutch.

You can find the entire programme and free tickets via lakenhal.nl/rembrandtfeestje.

Project The world's smallest work of art.

  • From 5 up to and including 31 July 2022.
  • Museum De Lakenhal, Oude Singel 32 in Leiden
  • Open Tuesday to Friday, 10.00 to 17.00
Free admission on Friday 15 July tickets Regular tickets

Note, not for publication

For more information and interview requests you can contact Harriot Voncken | h.voncken@lakenhal.nl | +31 (0)6 34364191 


Micro-Rembrandt by Jeroen Spijker