International conference to launch Museum’s new study space

Published October 20, 2017 at 14:25

A new study space that will give the public greater access to the collections at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery is set to open with a special launch event and international conference.

The new research room funded by Arts Council England, incorporates an area for in-depth study of the museum’s extensive collections by students, academics and visitors and a separate space where visitors can handle historic items and learn more about their history.

It will be opened on Thursday, November 9 with a special reception attended by Council representatives and academics including Dr Eric White of Princeton University, New Jersey.

A talk will be given by Ed Potten of Cambridge University on important new finds in the collection.

The event will then be followed by an international conference called ‘Something for my native town’: Recent Discoveries and New Directions in the R.E. Hart Collections.

It will be held on Friday, November 10 at the Blackburn University Centre and will look at the collection left to the town by Edwardian industrialist, Robert Edward Hart.

The Blackburn rope manufacturer bequeathed what has been described as ‘an almost entire history of the written word’ from Assyrian tablets dating back as far as c.2000 BC to works by William Morris, and a collection of Roman coins only rivalled by the one held by the British Museum.

The conference will include speakers from some of the world’s most respected institutions including Professor Nigel Morgan of the University of Cambridge, Dr. Scot McKendrick of the British Library, Dr. Catherine Yvard of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Dr. Rebecca Darley from Birkbeck College, University of London, Professor David McKitterick, Honorary Professor of Historical Bibliography at Trinity College, Cambridge and US based Dr Eric White of Princeton University,

It has been organised by Dr Cynthia Johnston of the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Dr Johnston and her colleagues have worked with Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery since 2015, leading academic research on the manuscript and rare book collection left to the museum in 1946.

Executive member for Culture, Leisure and Young People, Councillor Damian Talbot, said:

This is a very exciting project and we’re delighted to be working with the University of London and the Arts Council to see that our wonderful collections are celebrated and made more accessible to the public and academics alike. I would like to thank Dr Johnston for helping to drive this project and highlighting the fantastic legacy that was left to the people of Blackburn.

Dr Cynthia Johnston from the University of London, said:

 The generous grant from Arts Council England will enable the museum to share the treasures of the Hart collection with the people it was intended for, the community that Edward Hart called, ‘the people of the town’. Our new research on the collections by internationally renowned scholars has shown that Edward Hart has indeed left his native town a gift of great historical significance. It’s just beginning to reveal its secrets to us.

Tickets for the conference are £15 | £10 concessions – book online: bit.ly/blackburnhart

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