Making History: Antiquaries in Britain


The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College is now presenting the exhibition: Making History: Antiquaries in Britain, which showcases treasures from the Society of Antiquaries of London, a 300-year-old society for people concerned with the study of the past, which still thrives today. It is on display until December 11, 2011.

Please watch our interview with the museum’s Director, Nancy Netzer, about the exhibition:

Comprising of ninety-eight of the Society’s most significant works, the exhibition traces milestones in the discovery, recording, preservation, interpretation, and communication of Britain’s history. The internationally important artifacts on display, which includes manuscripts of the Magna Carta from 1225 and the Winton Domesday Book, as well as royal portraiture, provide a timeline for British history.

This exhibition—which marks the first time works from the Society of Antiquaries’ collection have been shown in North America—is a collaboration among the Society, Boston College McMullen Museum and Yale Center for British Art, and includes 41 of the Center’s celebrated works. Following its debut at Boston College, Making History will travel to Yale, where it will be displayed from February 2 through May 27, 2012.

Manuscript of the Magna Carta, c.1225

Through objects collected by the Society of Antiquaries of London (www.sal.org.uk), the exhibition traces milestones in Britain’s history and explores ways in which scholars have interpreted history over the past 300 years. It examines beliefs current before the Society was founded in 1707 and reveals how new discoveries, technologies and interpretations have transformed understanding ever since.

Originally formed before the existence of national museums, libraries, and galleries, the Society’s collections of antiquities, drawings, historic books, manuscripts, and paintings provide a timeline for British history. Assembled together are artifacts of international importance; they include manuscripts of the Magna Carta from 1225 (the English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, is widely viewed as one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy) and the Winton Domesday Book (a 12th-century English administrative document which records the landholdings in the city of Winchester).

Among other exhibition highlights are detailed records of lost buildings and objects, an outstanding collection of panel paintings including royal portraits from Henry VI to Mary I, and works from the Arts and Crafts movement associated with William Morris, Fellow and founder of the English Arts and Crafts movement whose country house, Kelmscott Manor is owned by the Society. These works are displayed alongside loans from the celebrated collection of the Yale Center for British Art including rare books and paintings and drawings by Samuel Palmer, Edward Burne-Jones and Augustus Welby Pugin.

To learn more the exhibit, please visit http://makinghistory.sal.org.uk/

To learn more about the McMullen Museum, please visit http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/artmuseum/index.html

Sharan Newman