Cotton to Gold: Extraordinary Collections of the Industrial North West

PUBLISHED: 00:00 24 February 2015

Comic Actor - Utagawa Kunisada, 1854. Lewis Collection. Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery

Comic Actor - Utagawa Kunisada, 1854. Lewis Collection. Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery

not Archant

Riches gathered by Lancashire’s collector-philanthropists are showcased in a new London exhibition

Priceless treasures once owned by Lancashire cotton magnates are to be put on display at an eccentric art venue in London at the end of January. Cotton to Gold: Extraordinary Collections of the Industrial North West is the fourth exhibition in the hugely successful Winter Exhibition programme at Two Temple Place, a neo-Gothic building turned art gallery.

This free exhibition will showcase the riches gathered by the great collector-philanthropists of the booming industrial north west. As the cotton mills brought a mix of development and deprivation, tycoons poured their wealth into some of the finest and most astonishing collections in the country.

From exceedingly rare Roman coins, priceless medieval manuscripts and Turner watercolours to Tiffany glass, Japanese prints and even a Peruvian mummy, these proceeds from the Industrial Revolution financed a stunning collection of treasures.

Two Temple Place has partnered with Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, Haworth Art Gallery in Accrington and Towneley Hall in Burnley to host Cotton to Gold, resulting in a dazzling display of goods which have previously never travelled together before. The Winter Exhibition programme was devised to raise the profile of museums and art galleries around the UK by showcasing their collections in London.

‘To have our stunning collections shown at London’s beautiful Two Temple Place, where visitors can discover these magnificent objects for themselves, is an unexpected thrill,’ said Paul Flintoff, museum manager at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery. ‘We rarely lend our collections in such volume; in fact they have never travelled together before – making this a truly unique exhibition.’

No stranger to period art and drama, Two Temple Place has recently played host to the hit TV series Downtown Abbey, providing a dramatic setting for Lady Rose’s wedding at the end of the latest series. There’s no doubt that the objects on display at Cotton to Gold wouldn’t look out of place adorning the walls at Downtown, and now you can step into a world which explores the stories behind other wealthy characters and what motivated them to give all their treasures away.

The art gallery, located on Victoria Embankment, is owned and run by charity the Bulldog Trust. Chief Executive Mary Rose Gunn said: ‘We are all excited to work with such exceptional collections from the north west and cannot wait to see them on display. It is a privilege to present such outstanding objects to the public.’

Those wanting to see the exhibition in its entirety will have to travel to London. However, a portion of Cotton to Gold will be coming to Lancashire after its run in the capital. A version of the exhibition will be shown at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery in the summer and in 2016 a display of other items will be shown in Towneley Hall and at the Museum of Lancaster, Preston.

Exhibition runs until April 19

Two Temple Place, London, WC2R 3BD

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