Publicity postcard for Hale’s Tours in Oxford Street, London in 1906. Hale’s Tours came from the USA to Britain and offered film shows in a railway carriage that brought the wonders of the world to an audience in fifteen minutes.

Digitisation of University museum collection expands

A new digital publication features the University of Exeter’s vast holdings of material on cinema and pre-cinema held at the Bill Douglas Centre, the University’s museum of cinema and moving image.

Moving Images, Optical Entertainments and the Advent of Cinema’ is the fourth section of the Victorian Popular Culture series, an online educational publication produced by Adam Matthew, based on the collections held at the museum. It comprises around 40,000 images of artefacts and a number of 360 degree images, video clips and high resolution files.  The publication will be predominantly purchased by university libraries, especially in North America, It also features an online virtual exhibition that showcases a selection of these optical entertainment artefacts and even includes video clips of these unique devices in action.  Essays on the collection and its contexts have been provided by Bill Douglas Centre Curator Phil Wickham and the University of Exeter’s expert in pre-cinema Professor John Plunkett.  Early film footage has supplied early film footage by the British Film Institute (BFI), to further enrich the online educational resource.

Curator Phil Wickham said:“The Publication will raise the profile of this unique and versatile collection with scholars around the world, especially in the United States.  The process has enabled a huge amount of material to be digitised – a proportion of which we can use for free for our own projects. Thanks to the project more people will be able to discover the unique research resources we have on offer at the University of Exeter.”

Adam Matthew use digitisation techniques to enable audiences around the world to experience content that for years was only accessible to a very small number of people. The investment that their business provides helps to archive, conserve, develop and distribute collections.  They have produced a large number of digital resources based on archive collections around the world.  Although they are global in scope, the University has been pleased to work with a company from the South West, as the company’s head office is in Wiltshire.

Lauren Jones, assistant editor at Adam Matthew, said: “We were delighted to work with The Bill Douglas Centre and their amazing collection of treasures telling the story of the development of moving images and the beginnings of Cinema. This publication really illustrates how fascinating and unique the artefacts held in the museum are and we are sure that the universities and organisations that buy the resource will be impressed by the collections that the Centre holds.”

Date: 9 January 2013

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