By Mark Blackburn
Minerva (Sept/Oct 2004)
Introduction: For the last two and a half years the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has been partially closed during the construction of its £12 million Courtyard Extension. During that time there have been no temporary exhibitions in the museum, and many of the post-Classical galleries have been closed to visitors. The museum was reopened on 1 July, and among the first exhibitions is ‘The Normans. Three Centuries of Achievement, 911-1204’.
This exhibition marks the 800th anniversary of the loss of Normandy to the French crown, as Philip Augustus wrested the duchy from the Angevins. It also celebrates the Fitzwilliam’s acquisition of the outstanding William Conte Collection of coins of Norman England, purchased with generous support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Art Collections Fund. Yet the exhibition ranges more widely than Norman England, surveying the extent of Norman rule in Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. The story is told through coinage.