diamond geezer

 Friday, March 06, 2015

In case you hadn't noticed, this year's exhibition at Two Temple Place is in full effect. That's the neo-Gothic mansion near Temple station, which only opens for three months a year, but puts on a damned good show when it does. This year that's Cotton to Gold, subtitled "Extraordinary Collections of the Industrial North West", and it runs daily (except Tuesdays) until 19th April. A trio of Pennine museums have trawled through their shelves and dug out some really terribly splendid items gathered by some of the great industrialists of their age. These grime capitalists were also great philanthropists, and running a mill would often allow them to collect rare historical treasures on the side.

On the ground floor are some beautifully illustrated medieval books, a wall of old Japanese prints and an extremely rare run of Roman coins including one from every single emperor. If beetles give you the willies then avoid the display cases at the foot of the stairs - a few of the colourful specimens pinned in their boxes are enormous. Upstairs in the great hall (which is amazing in its own right, but then so is the entire house) are cases containing ivory sculptures and a Peruvian mummy, as well as a collection of exquisite Tiffany glassware (I hope those aren't real goldfish embedded within).

The watchword for the exhibition ought to be 'eclectic', indeed there's a touch of the Pitt Rivers about it, and it's great to see an exhibition that truly recognises a cultural life well beyond London. Full marks to Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, Accrington's Haworth Art Gallery and Burnley's Towneley Hall for taking up the challenge, and to the Bulldog Trust for putting on yet another fine show. I can't wait to find out what next year's is going to be.

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