Unlocking the British School at Rome’s fine arts archive

A new digital exhibition illuminating the undiscovered work and stories of influential Twentieth Century artists has been launched.

As part of The University of Manchester’s Collaboration Labs programme, an interdisciplinary team of Postgraduate Researchers have curated an interactive, digital exhibition to showcase an unexplored Fine Arts archive at the British School at Rome, a prestigious research academy supporting the Arts, Humanities and Architecture.

Over the last 120 years, painters, sculptors, engravers and printmakers, architects, archaeologists and scholars have carried out residencies at the British School at Rome. Until now, the wealth of archival material produced by the artists has remained understudied and inaccessible to the wider public.

Working together with the British School at Rome, Ms Ksenia Litvinenko (The University of Manchester), Dr Nia Davies (University of Salford) and Dr Peter Buckles (University of Liverpool) have drawn on innovative research, digital and creative writing methods to bring the materials and their history to light.

"'The specificity of the archive prompted us to expand our knowledge and research skills in art history, especially in the context of the early 20th century. As a result, the platform explores a range of artistic mediums such as mural painting, engraving, sculpture and architecture, and how they were practised at that time. It also offers new insights into the institutional history of fine arts education and classical studies in the UK and cultural and diplomatic connections between the UK and Italy during 1913-1930." - Ksenia Litvinenko, PhD Researcher in Architecture, School of Education, Environment and Development, The University of Manchester.

Designed around the concept of a network, the exhibition explores the complex relationships between individuals, objects, places and themes to showcase the archive, tell its stories and ignite interest among the public through a semi-curated museum-like experience.

"I’m happy that we were able to explore and conceive of new ways to encounter, research and present to the public this fascinating fine arts archive." - Dr Nia Davies, School of Arts, Media and Creative Technologies, University of Salford.

The prints, letters, postcards, photographs, equipment, meeting minutes, drawings, maps, engravings and stories of notable artists such as Winifred Knights and are waiting to be explored in the archive.

"The team reminded us that the BSR’s collections are exciting, relevant and worth celebrating. This has renewed our determination to further research and make available this outstanding resource." - Alessandra Giovenco, BSR Archivist.

Explore the exhibition here.

Find out more about the project and research team here.

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