Published Monday 20 November 2017 at 15:04
A new research room was opened to the public on Thursday, November 9. The aim of the room is to allow the public greater access to the collections at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery.
The new study space 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.
The room opened with a launch event attended by around 70 people, including Council representatives and academics such as Dr Eric White of Princeton University, New Jersey.
A talk was also given by Ed Potten of Cambridge University on important new finds in the collection.
The launch event was then followed by an international conference on Friday, November 10 at the Blackburn University Centre.
The conference, named ‘Something for my native town’: Recent Discoveries and New Directions in the R.E. Hart Collections, looked at the collection left to the town by Edwardian industrialist, Robert Edward Hart.
The Blackburn-based collector left what has been described as ‘an almost entire history of the written word’. In his collection are Assyrian tablets dating back as far as c.2000 BC, works by William Morris, and a collection of Roman coins only rivalled by the one held by the British Museum.
The conference included 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.
The event was 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.