THE SWEAT ROOM

Experience the Sweat Room like never before! If you're an alumnus or alumna of our university, you can now add your signature to the digital Sweat Room. And find out more about the famous alumni who've written their names on the wall and the history of this centuries old room. So step inside and “tag” yourself.

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The famous tradition
It may well be the best tradition in Leiden: immortalising your name in the ‘Sweat Room’ after receiving your diploma. Now you can record your signature for posterity on our 360-degree photo of the best-known room of Leiden University.
Maybe you’ve forgotten where your signature is? Or it’s faded away? Then just add your tag to the spot (near) where you wrote your name after graduation.
The history
For a long time, the space was a meeting room for the curators, after which time it became a storage area for the peat burnt for heating in the university's furnaces.
In due time the room acquired a more distinguished use, becoming a senate chamber for administering exams. In the 18th century the room was given the new purpose suggested by its present-day name: it became a waiting room for students awaiting their exam results.
Saving the Sweat Room
A few years ago, it became clear that the famous Sweat Room was in urgent need of renovation. The plaster was coming loose and cracks were appearing in several places on the walls. Many of the Leiden alumni signatures were in danger of being lost.
The university started a crowdfunding campaign to save the room. The success of the campaign surprised everyone: within barely a week alumni had donated the needed sum of over €16,000. With the support of many alumni we were able to restore the walls to their original state, and retain all its signatures for many years to come.
Famous alumni
It is not known who the first new graduate was to sign his name, but ever since then it has been a tradition, and thousands of new graduates have written or signed their name.
They include Princess Beatrix, Queen Juliana and King Willem-Alexander, as well as the well-known Dutch Resistance fighter Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema. Recipients of honorary Leiden doctorates such as Sir Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela have also left their names here for posterity. You can find them under the glass plates on the right hand side of the room.
Dante at the door
It is not only the thousands of names that make this room special. Both inside and outside the Sweat Room unique charcoal drawings can be found.
In 1865 Master Victor Louis de Stuers let himself be locked up in the Academy Building and then drew a student on either side of the door: in one drawing the student is waiting, while in the other drawing he has passed his exams. Above the door, De Stuers added the following words from Dante: Lasciate ogni Sperenza; voi che entrate (‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’).

In 1919, Louis Raemaekers made a charcoal drawing of an examination candidate in the stairwell. Underneath it he wrote: 'hic sudavit sed non frustra' (no one sweats here in vain).
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