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Blackburn Museum

Blackburn Museum Academic Partnership

The Blackburn Museum Academic Partnership is a multi-year collaboration between the Institute of English Studies and the Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery.

The partnership provides for academic expertise and public engagement work around the major book and coin collection of Robert Edward Hart (1878-1946) held by the Museum. A highly successful partnership, outcomes have included an AHRC-funded colloquium, lectures, a major exhibition at Two Temple Place, an Arts Council England funded renovation project, an international conference, a podcast, and a stage play.  

AHRC Collaborative Skills Development Project (Student Led Strand)

This development strand funded a colloquium and exhibition of materials at Senate House Library (8-28 November 2013).

Visit the project blog


Conferences and Colloquia

23 November 2013
'Blackburn's Worthy Citizen’: The Philanthropic Legacy of R.E.Hart

9-10 November 2017
Recent Discoveries and New Directions in the R.E. Hart Collections of the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery


This conference marks the progress of research into the R.E. Hart Collection, and celebrates the opening of the Level 2 research and access area at the museum, which has been funded by an Arts Council England Resilience Grant.

Finding Mr Hart and Public Engagement

Finding Mr Hart

At the dawn of the 20th century, Robert Edward Hart lived a quiet life in Blackburn, managing the family rope-making business. Few people realised he was spending his family’s wealth to create one of Britain’s most impressive book and coin collections. Using interviews, letters, business records, and Hart’s personal notes, this creative theatre show takes audiences into the quiet but imaginative world of one of Britain’s most important collectors. Performed as a staged reading in Senate House (London) followed by a full staging at the historic Cotton Exchange (Blackburn). Written by Christopher Adams. Directed by Will Maynard. Partners included RE:SOURCE, RummageRescuers, and HSL, with funding from the Being Human Festival. 

Listen to playwright Christopher Adams discuss Finding Mr Hart on BBC Radio 3

Read an evaluation of the project from Dr Cynthia Hart on the Being Human Blog

Blackburn's Worthy Citizen Podcast

A fifteen-minute podcast about the life of Robert Edward Hart. Written by Dr Cynthia Johnston. Directed by Dr Graham Foster. With funding provided by the Train and Engage programme at University College London.

Listen to the podcast here.

Columbian Printing Press

The Museum's Columbian printing press was re-assembled in 2016, and is now used in community printing classes.

Read about the re-assembly here.

Watch Caroline Wilkinson, Curator of History at the Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery, discuss the press here.

Shakespeare at the Museum

Co-inciding with the exhibition of the first four Shakespeare folios at the Musueum, Senior Research Fellow Professor Sir Brian Vickers delivered a lecture on the occasion.

Watch a brief video of SRF Professor Sir Brian Vickers talking about the importance of the folios in the Museum.

Cotton to Gold: Extraordinary Collections of the Industrial Northwest

Cotton to Gold: Extraordinary Collections of the Industrial Northwest
Two Temple Place (31 January - 19 April 2015)

Cotton to Gold was presented in partnership with three publicly owned museums in the North West (Lancashire): Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, Haworth Art Gallery (Accrington) and Towneley Hall (Burnley). The exhibition was curated by Dr Cynthia Johnston from the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and Dr Jack Hartnell from the Courtauld Institute. 

Listen to Dr Cynthia Johnston discuss the exhibition on Front Row on BBC Radio 4.


Dr Cynthia Johnston (