Attention: this exhibition has ended.

Jean Desmets droomfabriek

13 December 2014 through 12 April 2015

With the exhibition Jean Desmet’s Dream Factory. The Adventurous Years of Film (1907-1916), EYE is opening up one of its treasure troves. EYE invites you to step into the dream world of the early years of cinema. 

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A pioneer of Dutch cinema during the years 1907–1916, Jean Desmet progressed from fairground operator to become one of the most important cinema operators and film distributors in the Netherlands. This exhibition pays homage to him, and especially to the films he screened. Made in the 1910s, these films surprise viewers with their inventiveness, uninhibited vision and artistic deployment of techniques. Filmmakers experimented with film as an attraction and form of live photography that depicted faraway places; with cinematic interpretations of literature, theatre and historical stories; and with formal and stylistic devices that explored the possibilities of the medium. Visit the exhibition and marvel at the playfulness, beauty and richness of early film.

EYE is organizing an extensive programme of accompanying activities that include films, Cinema Concerts, lectures and guided tours. Also during the Christmas break EYE is filled with activities. There is a free (family) tour through the exhibition daily. For kids there is a free scavenger hunt, and also workshops and magic lantern performances are organized. On Sunday 28 December you can attend a lecture and a Cinema Concert. You can find the full program at the bottom of this page. 

The Desmet Collection was inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2011 because of its unique value as a document of world heritage. 

Upcoming: as of 25 April, EYE presents an exhibition of work by the celebrated South African artist William Kentridge (Johannesburg, 1955).

Attention: this exhibition was on display from 13 December 2014 through 12 April 2015.

  • L’Automobile della morte (De Doodenrit), 1912, IT Collectie EYE

  • L’Orgie romaine, 1911, Louis Feuillade, FR Collectie EYE

  • Filibus (Filibus, de geheimzinnige luchtpirate), 1915, Mario Roncoroni, IT


Featuring spectacular posters and a selection of documents and publicity material, the exhibition places special emphasis on a number of films, projected on big screens and selected to demonstrate the modern and adventurous nature of early cinema. Next to this, posters and a selection of documents and publicity materials are on display. These portray how the film culture evolved from fairground attractions and travelling cinemas to permanent venues.

accompanying film programme

Every second week, EYE is presenting a compilation programme that looks at the exciting 1910s in the company of an expert. Themes that emerge include: living in a daze, senselessness and science and living photography. All screenings will be accompanied live by musicians who improvise in response to the theme of the evening.

Moreover, cinema concerts take place twice a month at 4 pm on Sunday afternoon. Featuring longer films to the accompaniment of live music by different musicians on each occasion, the concerts follow an introduction about the film’s history from an expert. The programme also includes children’s workshops and lectures on the earliest years of cinema.


Accompanying the exhibition is the lavishly illustrated publication Jean Desmet’s Dream Factory. The Adventurous Years of Film (1907–1916) in both English and Dutch editions, with essays by curators from EYE and other experts. It also includes a comprehensive overview of all films and posters preserved in the Desmet collection. Price: €29,90.

When purchasing the publication, you will receive for free the DVD Treasures from the Desmet Collection at the EYE Filmmuseum.

Full programme

From A to Z

Attention: this exhibition has ended.