Gallery reveals buried treasures
March 21, 2016 | Simon Jenkins
A new £1.9m gallery is a showcase for the remarkable priceless artefacts held in the University’s Special Collections.
The Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, which opened in the Parkinson Building in March, was made possible by the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and a generous donation from the Brotherton-Ratcliffe family in making this possible.
It has allowed the University to bring historic items, once housed deep in the Brotherton Library, to a public audience.
The include a 4,500-year-old Babylonian clay tablet, a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, a Mendelssohn manuscript and a map and compass used by the first prisoner to escape back to Britain from Germany during the First World War.
The collections began with Leeds industrialist Lord Brotherton, who funded the building of the Brotherton Library 80 years ago and bequeathed his library of rare books and manuscripts to the University. From this, successive librarians have been able to build a collections of artefacts, manuscripts and rare books of enormous cultural significance over many decades.
Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands said: “It gives us great pleasure to open up these wonderful treasures to new audiences. We hope residents of Leeds and far beyond will join us on campus to explore centuries of history represented across an amazing range of objects.”
The new gallery, which mirrors The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery at the opposite end of the Parkinson Building, also includes a temporary exhibition space that will enable the University to uncover the rich stories locked up in its collections, helping bring to life important anniversaries and events. Already this space has hosted exhibitions around Conscientious Objection during the First World War, and displays to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.