A selection from the fine art, decorative art, ethnographical and archaeological collections are to go on display at Derby Museum and Art Gallery, in a new exhibition, Common Treasury. The exhibition opens to the public on Tuesday 12 May and finishes on Sunday 21 June.
When it opened in 1879, Derby Museum was the culmination of many years of planning and thought. Many of the objects that the people of Derby know and love were part of the founding collections. The collection now contains thousands of items assembled in many cases through the generosity of Derby’s people.
Lucy Bamford, Senior Curator of Art at Derby Museums said that,
“This exhibition explores the growth of the city’s extraordinarily rich and diverse collections over the past 150 years. Wonders of ancient civilisations, Italian Renaissance paintings, and manmade curios are among just a few of the fascinating objects we’re bringing out of store. Often overlooked in more recent decades as a result of a focus on objects of local relevance, these collections nevertheless reflect an historic mission to educate and inspire the local community that continues to this day.
Selecting possible items for display has been a humbling experience. Despite their disparate nature, Derby’s collections are connected by a common story. Whether collected by wealthy local individuals, and later gifted or bequeathed to the museum, or singled-out and acquired by curators with the help of public donations, all the objects have been assembled with a view to enriching the lives of Derby people. This exhibition is about sharing and celebrating the treasures that belong to us all.”
Highlights of the exhibition include work by Benjamin West, L.S Lowry, William Powell Frith, Jacob Epstein and Cecil Collins, which will be on shown alongside objects from across the world created by unknown makers. Some pieces in the exhibition will be shown for the very first time.
Common Treasury will ask questions of the purpose of a public museum. How can the past inform decisions as we collect material culture for the future? Derby has changed since the museum opened. How important is a freely accessible public space where everyone can learn about their place in the world?
Alongside the exhibition, Derby Museums are hosting a range of events including talk focussing on ‘Works on Paper’ and ‘Works in Oil’ along with an illustrated talk with Lucy Bamford, ‘ Permanent and Priceless, a history of Derby Art Gallery and its collection,’ on Saturday 30 May from 2-3pm. For more information on all the events, go to www.derbymuseums.org