Animated Life: Seeing the Invisible

On September 10, 2014, this video and a short article about it was featured in the Opinion section of the New York Times online. As Animated Life: Seeing the Invisible, it is still available on the Times’ web. It was also carried in the Dutch press, the NRC Handelsblad: Anthoni van Leeuwenhoek zag als eerste het onzichtbare. In addition, the Times posted it to their Op-Docs YouTube channel and Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck posted it to their portfolio on Vimeo.

The video was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The narrators are Lodewijk Palm, historian of science at the Descartes Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and long-time editor-in-chief of the 19-volume Collected Letters of Leeuwenhoek, Bonnie Bassler, microbiologist at Princeton, and Douglas Anderson, historian of science at Medaille College in Buffalo, New York, and proprietor of Lens on Leeuwenhoek.

Through van Leeuwenhoek’s Eyes: Microbiology in a Nutshell

This video (click screenshot above) created by Dr. Lesley A. Robertson shows what the first visual encounter with microbes probably looked like ‘Through van Leeuwenhoek’s Eyes’. This is the winning piece from the FEMS Image Contest, which challenged entrants to create a powerful piece of media showing microbiology in a nutshell.

‘Original and esthetic’, was the enthusiastic comment of the jury on Lesley Robertson’s submission.

Lens Making in the 1600s

In 2016, the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, has released a video, Lensmaking in the 1600's (screenshot below), showing Leeuwenhoek's techniques. Making microscope lenses in the 1600s, a page on the Corning Museum's blog, explains the experiences of the museum's expert glass blowers who tried to re-create Leeuwenhoek's technique. It was made for the museum's 2016-17 exhibit, Revealing the Invisible: The History of Glass and the Microscope.

The remarkable discovery of microbial life

Ed Yong narrated this Vox video, The remarkable discovery of microbial life (screenshot below), to help publicize his 2016 book I Contain Multitudes.

Lens on Leeuwenhoek

In 2008, the whole Lens on Leeuwenhoek project was conceived as a four-minute video about the life and work of Antony van Leeuwenhoek. Seven years later, it has grown into this comprehensive web and a series of short videos, the first of which is on YouTube (click screenshot above).

Credits for the Lens on Leeuwenhoek video


Melvin Vermeer
Melvin Vermeer

van Leeuwenhoek

Huibert van Duin
Huib van Duin


Art Renewal Center

Wikimedia Commons

Dutch Painters

Andries Beeckman
Bartholemus Delendo
Frans Hals
Jan van der Heyden
Jan Luyken
Adriaen van Ostade
Rembrandt van Rijn
Jan Steen
Jan Verkolje
Johannes Vermeer
Emanuel de Witte

17th Century Composers

Arcangelo Corelli
François Couperin
Giovanni Legrenzi
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Georg Philipp Telemann
Antonio Vivaldi

Performed by

American Baroque
Telemann Trio Berlin
Richard Savino

Thanks to


Jeremy Bangs
Jeremy Bangs
Leiden American Pilgrim Museum

interior - Leiden Pilgrim Museum

location filming

Leiden and Delft
The Netherlands

I am currently working on the next two videos in this series, one on the Golden Age of the Netherlands and the other on the life of van Leeuwenhoek.