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Cambridge Illuminations Research Project

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Since 2003, the 'Cambridge Illuminations' project has been researching the 4,000 illuminated Western manuscripts and incunabula preserved at the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge colleges, and publishing them in a multi-volume catalogue series. The project has received private philanthropic funding and research grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Modern Humanities Research Association, the Isaac Newton Trust and the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund.

High points of the project were The Cambridge Illuminations exhibition (26 July–11 December 2005) and the COLOUR exhibition (30 July– 30 December 2016), accompanied by their own catalogues: The Cambridge Illuminations: Ten Centuries of Book Production in the Medieval West, ed. P. Binski and S. Panayotova, London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2005, and COLOUR: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts, ed. S. Panayotova, London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2016. Both exhibitions closed with international conferences. The proceedings of the first one were published in 2007: The Cambridge Illuminations: The Conference Papers, ed. S. Panayotova, London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols. The two-volume proceedings of the second conference will be published in 2017–18: Manuscripts in the Making: Art and Science, ed. S. Panayotova and P. Ricciardi, London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols.

Project information

Related publications

Multi-volume series of academic catalogues

A Catalogue of Western Book Illumination in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge Colleges, London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols:

Subsequent volumes, currently in preparation, will cover the remaining English and French manuscripts.

 

Exhibitions and exhibition catalogues

The Cambridge Illuminations exhibition (30 July – 30 Dec. 2005). This two-venue exhibition (Fitzwilliam Museum and Cambridge University Library) displayed over 200 of the finest manuscripts preserved in the Fitzwilliam, the University Library and the Cambridge Colleges. Attracting over 90,000 visitors at the Museum and over 10,000 visitors at CUL, it was the Fitzwilliam’s first ‘block-buster’ exhibition and one of the most successful ever.

The Cambridge Illuminations: Ten Centuries of Book Production in the Medieval West, ed. P. Binski and S. Panayotova, London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2005. The catalogue and its first reprint sold out before the show closed, necessitating a rapid second reprint.

Bicentenary exhibition COLOUR: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts (30 July 2016 – 2 Jan. 2017), attracting over 100,000 visitors and overwhelmingly positive responses by academics, conservators, the press and the public

COLOUR: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts, ed. S. Panayotova, London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2016. The catalogue sold out half-way through the exhibition and its reprint sold out as the show closed.

 

Conferences and conference proceedings

International conference The Cambridge Illuminations (8-10 Dec. 2005), attracting some 300 delegates

The Cambridge Illuminations: The Conference Papers, ed. S. Panayotova, London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2007

International conference Manuscripts in the Making: Art and Science (8-10 Dec. 2016), attracting over 250 delegates

Manuscripts in the Making: Art and Science, ed. S. Panayotova and P. Ricciardi, London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2017

Outcomes of the project

 

 

Digital resources

Illuminated: manuscripts in the making

Under the Covers: the conservation and rebinding of MS 251

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