Exhibition opening event 10 March, 6 – 8pm
In collaboration with Colchester and Ipswich Museums.
Firstsite is making its very own Wunderkammer; a cabinet of curiosities that will grow over the coming years to surround the Berryfield Mosaic sited permanently below the gallery floor. A permanent display in contrast to the transient nature of Firstsite’s rolling programme of temporary exhibitions, it will develop over time to feature objects from collections across the region.
Steered by ‘Identity’ – Firstsite’s theme for its 2017/18 programme – the treasures included in this first inception have been selected for their relationship to Colchester and in context to the town’s historical importance and contemporary culture. The exhibition is made almost entirely of loans from the important collections of Colchester and Ipswich Museums.
The centrepiece is A. Acland Hunt’s painting ‘Dr William Gilberd showing his experiments on Electricity to Queen Elizabeth and her Court’, c.1900; a painting that has hung in the Chamber of Colchester Town Hall for 100 years. Gilberd, born in the town, was a physician, physicist and philosopher, and credited as the originator of the term ‘electricity’. The painting, which also features Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake, is accompanied by a vitrine of objects contemporary to the reign of Queen Elizabeth – including elaborately designed Tudor placemats, smoking pipes and a powder flask.
Objects from across the Museums Service’s collections, some rarely shown – including specimens of natural, Egyptian and Roman history – also feature.