The Heart of Yorkshire: Creativity and Culture in York Minster’s Collections
In September 2020, a new temporary exhibition will open in the 13th century Chapter House of York Minster. Like so many institutions, normal operations at the Minster have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the Minster is now open for prayer and worship and to visitors, some restrictions remain in place. Reopening the Undercroft Museum, which is a rather constricted space, presents a number of challenges, though plans are underway.
During this unprecedented time, a temporary exhibition in the spacious Chapter House provides an opportunity to showcase objects not usually on long-term display. ‘The Heart of Yorkshire: Creativity and Culture in York Minster’s Collections’ features items made in York or intrinsically associated with the area. Creativity has thrived in York throughout the city’s existence. Goldsmiths, glaziers and stonemasons; scribes, printers and book-binders; writers, artists and performers have contributed to the dynamic cultural life of the city and region.
The exhibition, which is co-curated by Helen Rawson and by Peter Young and Sarah Griffin, the Archivist and Librarian of York Minster, highlights a selection of items from the Minster’s collections, from stained glass and silver to beautifully illuminated manuscripts, printed books, York’s first newspaper and playbills from the Theatre Royal.
In the last of our Summer series of Second Tuesday Talks, Helen will discuss the objects and their history, and explore the considerations, challenges and opportunities of putting together an exhibition in a ‘non-museum’ space. Following Helen’s presentation, she will be joined by Peter Young and Sarah Griffin, for a Q&A discussion session. Together, they will explain York Minster Library, Archives and Museum’s mission to care for the Minster’s wide-ranging collections and make them accessible to visitors and researchers, and take questions from the audience.
About the Speaker
Dr Helen Rawson took up post as Head of Heritage at York Minster in March 2020. She has spent much of her career in the Scottish museums sector, including 19 years in the museums service of the University of St Andrews, as Co-Director, and earlier as curator and senior curator, where she had a lead role in establishing MUSA, the Museum of the University of St Andrews. Helen has also worked as a museum consultant, in research development, and at National Museums Scotland. She is an Associate of the Museums Association and a member of the Recognition Committee, Museums Galleries Scotland. Helen’s research interests, including her PhD, focus on the history and development of museum collections.
About the Question Panel
Sarah Griffin is the Librarian at York Minster and the Rare Books Librarian at the University of York. A Partnership Agreement between the University and the Minster provides opportunities for collaboration and innovation across the two institutions. Sarah came to York from the Royal College of Physicians in London, where she curated the historical book collections. She has previously researched 17th-century antiquarian networks, which resulted in the publication this year of a co-authored chapter, and is currently researching the history of printing in York with a publication planned for next year.
Peter Young is the Archivist at York Minster, where he also has responsibility for records management and data protection. He has been the joint curator of various exhibitions, and worked on the redisplay of the Minster’s Undercroft museum (re-opened 2013). He is the joint editor of, and a contributor to, a web resource relating to the history of the Minster Library (released 2014).