‘Revealing the World’ exhibition at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Last week we opened our latest exhibition at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, ‘Revealing the World’. The exhibition looks at the curios and artefacts brought back by travellers, scientists and explorers who travelled the world. The exhibition includes loans from the British Museum, Derby Museum Service and Bakewell Old House Museum, and includes some of our Enlightenment! purchases. Other items were donated by Enlightenment figures with Derbyshire links such as Joseph Banks and Thomas Bateman.

On display there is an oil painting called ‘Near Tokyo’ by Frank Beresford that Derby Museum and Art Gallery bought from Ebay earlier this year. Frank Beresford was born in Derby in 1881 and trained at the Derby School of Art. In 1908 – 1909 he went to Japan on a painting tour, you can find out more about the artist and his visit to Japan here.

The other two loans from Derby Museum Service look at how far-away places influenced fashions and designs back home. On display are the two Derby Porcelain plates that the project bought in 2009. The plates painted by John Brewer show Arctic scenes including a Newfoundland dog rescuing a sailor and a rather docile looking Polar Bear. Their production shows the level of interest in the Arctic explorations that were happening at the time.

Another loan from Derby is a mettzotint of Joseph Wright’s painting ‘The Widow of an Indian Chief Watching the Arms of her deceased husband’ – showing the fascination there was for the image of the ‘Nobile Savage’ in late 18th century Britain.

Other loans include a pyramidion collected and donated to the British Museum by Sir John Wilkinson Gardner, an Aleut Indian canoe donated by Joseph Banks and three Peruvian figures collected by Thomas Bateman.

The exhibition is free and runs until the 24th November.

Derbyshire merchandising and trade ephemera


 The Derbyshire ephemera project won the award for best Care and Development of Collections at the Derbyshire Heritage Awards.   

The awards which were held on 20th September at the Silk Mill in Derby celebrated the best of the county’s museums, historic houses and heritage sites. Find out more about the awards here. 


In early 2011 the Enlightenment! project hosted a post-doctoral research placement as part of Nottingham University’s Arts Graduate scheme. During the placement Dr Neil Howe undertook 120 hours of research into Derbyshire merchandising and trade ephemera held in collections in London and the East Midlands.   His search led him to (amongst others) the V&A, Bodleian Library, British Museum, Derbyshire Record Office and the University of Nottingham archive.

Neil discussed his findings at a public event at Belper North Mill on 19 July and his report is now available online – Enlightenment! Derbyshire – Survey of Ephemera Report (Web)

Duesury & Co Trade Card, © The Trustees of the British Museum

Enlightenment: Reflections of Chaos

Teresa Levitt has been photographing the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum as part of her City & Guilds Photography course. She has been inspired by the gallery that ‘brings together astronomy, mythology, science, history, culture, art, learning – and misrepresentation’. You can view her photographs on her website.

10 of us involved in the Enlightenment! project went down to the Gallery last year. You can find out about our visit here.

Enlightenment! trip to London – November 2010

Anja, Matt and Antony

On the 4th of November 10 of us – from the three partner museums – went down to London. The first stop on our tour was Sotheby’s Auction House where we went to the ‘Travel Maps, Atlases and Natural History’ auction.  This was followed by a viewing of the ‘Antique and Decorative Print’s’ auction at Bloomsbury. 

After lunch we headed over to the British Museum where Kim Sloan (Curator of the Enlightenment Gallery) and Francis Carey (Head of public programmes) gave us a fantastic and in-depth tour of the Enlightenment Gallery.  The day was finished off with tea and cakes in the British Museum canteen.  Below is some of the feedback from the day;


“I thought it was a brilliant and inspiring day.  I’d never visited a big auction house before and was amazed at the speed of the buying process, also very interesting to see how many of the bids were done by phone or online -all quite a revelation!  Kim Sloane gave us a wonderful and comprehensive introduction to the Enlightenment Gallery.  It was very interesting to hear about how the development of the gallery involved so many different curatorial departments and a fascinating insight into the design concept of the gallery – gentleman’s study, cabinets of curiosities and a library.  I was also particularly interested in hearing about how environmental monitoring and management were undertaken and this was really helpful in terms of the conservation course I’m currently taking.  Kim and Frances Carey then took us to the amazing BM canteen for tea and cakes and gave us a very honest and informative insight into their work.”

Lucy and Antony in the Enlightenment Gallery



 “The Sotheby’s auction, although we weren’t bidding ourselves, was a fascinating chance to see a large auction house at work, and I feel that the experience will benefit anybody who has to go and bid at an auction in future.  The amount of telephone and internet bidding was definitely a surprise!

The Enlightenment Gallery

The curator led gallery tour at the British Museum was, however, the highlight of the day for me.  The presence of both Kim and Francis was testament to the standing of the Enlightenment! project and the potential opportunities that exist for closer co-operation with the collections and expertise of the British Museum.  The openness and honesty of Kim’s tour was as enlightening as the gallery itself, and it is always strangely reassuring when hearing about the problems others have experienced to realise that whatever the size of the museum, the importance of the collection and the size of the budget, the problems we encounter are invariably the same.  It was a credit to Kim that she discussed such problems openly, and I know that it provided the group with much food for thought which will benefit future gallery and exhibition design projects for us all, during the Enlightenment! project and beyond.”

The Enlightenment Gallery


Members of the Enlightenment! team