Lord Lieutenant of Devon Eric Dancer, Peter Jewell and Geoffrey Bush.

New film centre museum guide

A new fully illustrated guide book celebrating the University of Exeter’s Museum tells the story of the development of the moving image from shadow puppets to blockbusters.

The museum guide will help will assist visitors in their experience of the collection at the University’s Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture (BDC).

The Centre contains both a public museum and an academic research centre with an enormous collection relating to the history of film and visual media. From shadow puppets to Shirley Temple dolls, from magic lanterns to Marilyn Monroe postcards, the Centre’s collection will be available in the newly produced catalogue.

Phil Wickham, the curator of the BDC said, ‘The sumptuously presented guide contains beautiful illustrations throughout, with text contributed by academics from different disciplines across the University. This special catalogue demonstrates the extraordinary diversity and quality of the collections, which cover the long history of the moving image from the 17th century to the latest blockbuster movie.’

The Museum guide was made possible by funding from The University of Exeter Foundation, a charitable body that owns the collections of the Bill Douglas Centre, administered by Lord Lieutenant of Devon Eric Dancer, Patrick Egan and Geoffrey Bush. Visitors will be able to pick up a guide to use whilst looking at the collection in the museum, and it is also available to purchase. As a principal donor of the Centre, Peter Jewell is pleased that the guide is finally in place, after awaiting a publication to befit the Centre’s increasingly vital position within the international celebration of the history of moving images.

He said, ‘Being a collector is like a disease, it is hard to shake off. I have just found a book that I’m adding to the BDC collection. Enthusiasm is key, Bill always responded with enthusiasm and felt it was important to spread that enthusiasm for this kind of collection. As an individual, I find it a most worthwhile way to spend my time finding all these wonderful cinema related items. Thank you for creating this catalogue which reflects some of that enthusiasm; it has been a long time coming and now it is here.’

Organisers of the University’s Film Studies Society, postgraduate students Joe Hickinbottom, Hannah Brown and Laz Carter, are in the process of creating a short film about the Centre. They will be interviewing staff, students and donors to illustrate the importance of the Centre’s facilities, alongside shots detailing the collection itself. The main aim of the film is to promote the Bill Douglas Centre as a museum and as a site of academic research. Joe Hickinbottom said, ‘Our intention is to bring the collection to life, creating a magical atmosphere that is faithful to not only the artefacts, but also to honour the vision and legacy of Bill Douglas and other notable donors. We want to inspire a wider audience to experience the charms and delights of this unique collection.’

The film is due to be ready mid next year and will be hosted online on sites including the Centre, the College of Humanities, the Exeter University Film Studies Society, and will be distributed to various bodies interested in cinema.

At the same time that the museum guide has been published a new research centre at the University is being launched. The Centre for Interdisciplinary Film and Research, based within the College of Humanities, will serve as a hub for film studies research. It will also involve teaching and activities at the University across a number of subjects including the promotion of the unique resources of the Bill Douglas Centre.

Date: 14 December 2010

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