A celebration of John Ruskin in the Age of Science

Professor Sandra Kemp and Vice-Chancellor Professor Andy Schofield stand in front of a bannered archway bearing the words 'John Ruskin - And the Science of Sight'
Professor Sandra Kemp and Vice-Chancellor Professor Andy Schofield

Vice-Chancellor Professor Andy Schofield hosted a reception and private view of The Ruskin’s new exhibition, John Ruskin and the Science of Sight, at the Royal Society in London.

The event on Tuesday 4 October was followed by the 2022 Mikimoto Lecture which is now in its 27th year and is supported by a donation from the Trustees of the Ruskin Library of Tokyo.

Curated by Professor Sandra Kemp, Director of The Ruskin, with Keith Moore (Head of Library and Information Services, the Royal Society) and Howard Hull (Director of Brantwood), the John Ruskin and The Science of Sightexhibition is the final in a series exploring John Ruskin in the Age of Sciencein London and the Lake District.

From the first photographic images of the Alps, to experimental studies of aerial perspective and geological diagrams and colour charts, these exhibitions have placed Ruskin alongside his 19th century scientific contemporaries, exploring his influence on science and society.

John Ruskin and the Science of Sight is on display at the Royal Society until 9 December 2022. Works from the exhibition programmes are also available as Google Arts and Culture exhibits, with an introduction by the curator.

Guests included people and organisations who were instrumental in the University’s efforts to bring the collection to Lancaster, as well as world-leading Ruskin scholars.

In his welcome, Vice-Chancellor Professor Andy Schofield said: “Guardianship of the largest collection of Ruskin’s works represents a privilege, a high responsibility, and an opportunity for Lancaster, at a time when it is critical, not only for our University but for our whole sector to address the most pressing social, economic and environmental concerns today.

“Ruskin bridged the sciences and the arts and encompassed so many of these core concerns, often ahead of his times. In this respect, The Ruskin Whitehouse Collection is an incredible resource at the heart of our University.”

The Mikimoto lecture, Valuing John Ruskin’, was delivered by Joan Winterkorn, world-leading expert in literary and historical manuscripts and member of the Ruskin Advisory Board.

As Director and Head of Valuations at Quaritch for thirty-three years, Joan oversaw private valuations and sales of noteworthy archives and papers including the archive of the Royal Society of Literature, the Mountbatten Papers, the Coleridge Family Papers and those of Peter Brook, Laurence Olivier and the James Lovelock Papers.

Most recently, as part of her ongoing work with the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joan has been instrumental in securing archives of significant importance for the nation including the Winston Churchill Archive, the John Betjeman Library, the Alan Turing Papers, the ‘Lost Photographs’ of Captain Scott and the Minton Archive.

As the person charged with valuing The Ruskin Whitehouse Collection at the time of its sale, Joan’s lecture centred on unexpected encounters with Ruskin in national and international collections and archives, and on Ruskin’s expertise as a collector of rare books and manuscripts.

She said: “Assessing the commercial value of a collection is not just a matter of assigning prices to various high spots.

“It also calls for an understanding of the historic and research value, the iconic value, the emotional value, what Philip Larkin called the magical and the meaningful value.

“Some archives and collections are self-contained, others reach out in all directions making connections to their ancestors, contemporaries, friends and adversaries and to those who followed in their footsteps.

“The Whitehouse Ruskin collection is a powerful connector to collections of papers, paintings, photographs, drawings, books, and artefacts throughout Britain, the United States and internationally.”

Joan Winterkorn

Joan Winterkorn, who delivered the Mikimoto lecture

More information

Please visit The Ruskin’s website, where you can follow progress on the capital project to make the museum’s collection, programme and research accessible to more people.

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