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5 reasons to visit the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery

PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 April 2015 | UPDATED: 23:22 23 October 2015

A painting in Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery fails to appreciate a performance at a Night at the Museum event

A painting in Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery fails to appreciate a performance at a Night at the Museum event

Derren Lee Poole

Arts manager Rebecca Johnson selects five of her favourite treasures from the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery collection.

One of the treasures from Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery's collection of Japanese printsOne of the treasures from Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery's collection of Japanese prints


There’s an astounding collection of Japanese woodblock prints. A small selection is on show and they feature examples by the great masters Hokusai, Kunisado and Toyokuni, telling stories such as the drama about the 47 ronin who seek revenge for the murder of their master. It is the largest collection outside of London.

Bugs at Blackburn Museum and Art GalleryBugs at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery


These are a perennial favourite of visitors to the museum. This collection of almost 3,000 beetles from all around the world was given to the museum over 100 years ago. It is a hugely valuable resource for naturalists, particularly as several species are now extinct. Stuffing animals and collecting them was at the height of its popularity in the Victorian age when for the first time a significant number of people had money to throw around and some leisure time in which to do it.

Arts manager Rebecca Johnson with Frederic Leighton’s painting Mother and Child, better known as Cherries in the Blackburn Museum and Art GalleryArts manager Rebecca Johnson with Frederic Leighton’s painting Mother and Child, better known as Cherries in the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery


This is a classic example of a Victorian interior scene, painted by Frederic, Lord Leighton, which features a beautiful young mother and her lovely child. This sentimental work, on ther wall behind Rebecca, allowed the artist to display his great skills. It is always in great demand for exhibitions and has been shown in galleries all over the world.

The Forge by James SharplesThe Forge by James Sharples

The Forge

This is a remarkable painting by James Sharples who started to work in a Blackburn foundry at the age of ten. He taught himself to read and write but his talent for drawing was discovered by his workmates as he chalked out designs on the foundry floor. He repaid their encouragement by making this painting of them at work. It is one of our most travelled works of art, having been exhibited all over the world.

William ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s folio

The museum is extremely lucky to own a first, second and third edition of Shakespeare’s works. The third that dates from 1664 is particularly rare as a large number of them were destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. They were left to the museum by one of our main benefactors Robert Edward Hard a local rope manufacturer who died in 1946.

When it opened in the late 19th century, Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery was one of the first purpose-built free museums outside London and it houses an impressive collection of important art, a fascinating Egyptian gallery and a wealth of items relating to social and natural history.

It also hosts live music events as part of the Night at the Museum programme organised by Blackburn is Open, a scheme which aims to find creative ways to regenerate the town.



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