Friday, August 29, 2008

Rare Book School at the University of London

View of the interior of the print and works on paper archive room at the British Museum's library.

Sixteenth century woodworking tools used by Albrecht Durer in his printmaking studio and shop for his original woodcuts. These are housed in the British Museum's print room.

Laying down paper to pull a print from an inked copperplate. Print workshop director, Michael Mann, from the Slade School of Fine Art in London leads us through the process.

It was an exciting summer for us! Our gallery spent a week in London attending Rare Book School at the University of London. This summer’s course focused on the History of Maps and Mapping which included seminars by top scholars in the field: Peter Barber, Head of British Library Map Collections; Catherine Delano-Smith, Editor of Imago Mundi – The International Journal for the History of Cartography; Laurence Worms, Ash Rare Books; Roger JP Kain, Professor of Geography at University of Exeter; and Sarah Tyacke, President of Imago Mundi and map specialist for Royal Holloway University of London.

During the week, we were able to view select items from the amazing map collection at the British Library. One of the highlights from this collection included an original Martellus manuscript atlas which arrived in England from Italy around 1800 when purchased by George III's son, the Duke of Sussex and then later purchased by the British Museum following the Duke's death in 1844 - truly one of their prized acquisitions.

Another highlight is what Peter Barber claims is one of the most important purchases the British Library has made in recent years - the Mercator Atlas of Europe. A composite atlas containing the only known manuscript maps in Mercator's own hand. Some of the printed maps have annotations in ink in Mercator's handwriting!

To top off this experience, we were also allowed access to the British Museum’s print room. Here, we were able to see some of the items from the permanent collection, including the woodworking tools used by Albrecht Durer to make his woodblocks.

The entire week was an incredible and educational experience! We look forward to next year’s seminars. To learn more about the program we attended, please feel free to contact the School of Advanced Study at the University of London.

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