Lancaster University: The Ruskin Whitehouse Collection

Lancaster University has announced plans to undertake vital capital improvement works in The Ruskin – Library, Museum and Research Centre following a grant from The National Archives.

The Ruskin is home to the world-leading collection of the works of John Ruskin (1819-1900), artist, writer and radical thinker. The planned capital works will represent the most comprehensive upgrade of The Ruskin’s facilities and systems since the iconic building was completed in 1997, and increase future public access to The Ruskin Whitehouse Collection.

Professor Paul Connolly, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Lancaster University, writes:

“As we traverse new ways of working, learning and living post-pandemic, our nation’s collections will continue to contribute new knowledge and understanding to the social, cultural and environmental challenges of the twenty-first century. At Lancaster, we are proud to be the custodians of a collection of national heritage status and global significance, and with the support of The National Archives, we look forward to sharing The Ruskin Whitehouse Collection with more people than ever before.”
The Ruskin Whitehouse Collection will move into temporary storage for the duration of the works, supported in part by a generous grant from The National Archives ‘Covid-19 Archives Fund’.

Digital Programme
While The Ruskin’s doors remain temporarily closed, our online programmes of exhibitions, talks, workshops and projects offer new ways to engage with Ruskin’s art and ideas. In 2021, in partnership with Google Arts and Culture, we’re launching online exhibitions ‘Making a Model Archive’ and ‘The Eye of the Mountain’. Our new citizen science project, ‘Transcribing Ruskin’s Notebooks’, will continue, enabling a global community to work on the collection from a distance. As well as our established talks and lectures, we’ll be inviting you to artist-led workshops online, starting with our 2021 commissioned artist, textile designer and hand-weaver Dalia James.

Simultaneous programmes of research, conservation and digitisation will ensure continued care and development of the collection. A pilot project with Lancaster Digital Library will enable publics and researchers to explore The Ruskin Whitehouse Collection as ultra-high-quality images, extended through a parallel interpretation display. We will continue to support Lancaster University teaching through digital access to the collection, and in partnership with the Morecambe Bay Curriculum, deliver an innovative virtual learning programme for primary schools, centered in the collection.

In Summer 2022, we will reopen with a celebratory programme marking 25 years since the collection first came to Lancaster. Through research, exhibition and public programmes, ‘Tomorrow’s World Today: Ruskin, Art and Science’ will reinterpret Ruskin’s works and legacy in the context of scientific innovation. Ruskin was a polymath and his works on geology, botany and meteorology capture the explosion of knowledge resulting from the 19th century voyages of discovery, which shaped our scientific understanding of the natural world today. Bringing a new dimension to Ruskin, known for his writing on art and architecture, this wide-ranging programme will ask critical questions about what it means to inhabit the world today.

The Ruskin
The Ruskin is home to the world-leading collection of the works of John Ruskin (1819-1900), artist, writer and radical thinker.

The Ruskin Whitehouse Collection contains thousands of paintings and drawings, letters and manuscripts, photographs and daguerreotypes, and a library including Ruskin’s own collection and a complete repository of critical writing on Ruskin. Every aspect of Ruskin’s polymathic interests are represented, from architecture and the arts, to political economy and the natural sciences.

In 2019, The Ruskin relaunched as a University Museum and Research Centre with the flagship exhibition and identity, ‘Ruskin: Museum of the Near Future’. Follow The Ruskin online at their website, on Twitter and Instagram.

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