Forthcoming pop-up exhibition: ‘Embellish’d with gold: treasures from the European Manuscripts Collection’

Written by Fiona Melhuish, UMASCS Librarian

To celebrate the arrival of the European Manuscripts Collection earlier this year, we are very pleased to announce that we will be holding a launch event as part of the November Extended Hours of The MERL and the Special Collections reading room.

The pop-up display, entitled Embellish’d with gold: treasures from the European Manuscripts Collection, will feature some of the highlights from the collection, giving University staff, students and visitors the opportunity to explore this exciting new resource.

 

Folio 42 verso, Hours of the Virgin (Prime), with a miniature of the Nativity. From a Book of Hours for the Use of Rome, French, c. 1480-1490. University of Reading Special Collections MS 5650/43.

 

The collection consists of 143 items, including some printed items, an exquisite seventeenth century Italian manuscript prayer book, and the centrepiece of the collection, a stunning fifteenth century Book of Hours. Most of the items are illuminated manuscript leaves, and come from a range of different types of manuscript, including Books of Hours, missals, breviaries, graduals, psalters and a papal bull from Perugia, dated 1265. The material dates from the twelfth to the seventeenth century; the items are predominately of French origin (about half of the collection), with about a quarter originating from Italy and others from England, Spain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In addition to this pop-up display, we are also planning an exhibition of items from the collection in the Special Collections staircase hall in 2019.

The European Manuscripts Collection has been generously presented to the University of Reading by a private collector with the support of the Art Fund.

The display will take place in the Learning Studio as part of The MERL’s extended hours opening from 5pm to 9pm on Thursday 29 November 2018. The event is free, with no booking required.

This month’s extended hours opening will also feature our annual Christmas shopping evening. Come and enjoy Christmas carols by the University Choir, and make a start on your Christmas shopping with 10% off in The MERL shop!

 

 

Cliveden House Exhibition

At the end of February, staff from Special Collections were joined by students of the history department at Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire to showcase material from the Nancy and Waldorf Astor Archives. The material for the exhibition was chosen by the students as part of their discovering archives and collections module during the autumn term when they spent several weeks in the reading room at Special Collections. During that time they helped to catalogue the myriad of names in the Cliveden visitor books, got the chance to shadow archive staff and organise the material that formed the basis of February’s exhibition.

Students with Dr Jacqui Turner and Guy Baxter (University Archivist) in the reading room (Photo: Jacqui Turner)

Students with Dr Jacqui Turner and Guy Baxter (University Archivist) in the reading room (Photo: Jacqui Turner)

This is the second year in a row that students have had the chance to co-curate an exhibition at Cliveden and it proved just as popular with visitors as last year, if not more so. The exhibition offered a rare opportunity for visitors (including hotel guests and staff, as well as the National Trust staff that work on the Cliveden estate) to see original documents in their original setting.

Students at Cliveden House with general manager Sue Williams (Photo: Jacqui Turner)

Students at Cliveden House with general manager Sue Williams (Photo: Jacqui Turner)

You can see more of the display and find out more about the project in this short video:

The exhibition was separated into different themes including women’s suffrage, the Cliveden estate and the Cliveden stud. Hear more about the aspects of the exhibition in this conversation between Dr Jacqui Turner and two of the students who co-curated the exhibition:

The Nancy and Waldorf Astor archives can be accessed in our reading room. For more information about accessing our collections, click here.