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The Society of Antiquaries of London will launch a historic exhibition to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta. It will bring together and display, for the first time, the Society’s three copies of the charter.
Magna Carta Through the Ages, which takes place from May 26th to July 31st, will explore the antiquarian interest in the charter through the centuries and the ways in which Magna Carta has continued to be relevant to successive generations. The Society’s copies of Magna Carta are:
- A copy of the 1215 charter made from a discarded draft which gives an insight into the process by which the terms of Magna Carta were negotiated;
- A unique roll copy of the reissue in 1225, previously exhibited in the Society’s 2007 tercentenary exhibition, Making History;
- A copy of the 1225 reissue in an early 14th-century collection of statutes which shows how Magna Carta was received in a 14th-century legal context.
Gill Andrews, President of the Society of Antiquaries of London, explains “The Society is very grateful to our sponsors for giving us the opportunity to mount this important exhibition. One of our current priorities is to make the Society’s collections more accessible to a wider public. We plan for this exhibition to be the first of a series which will allow a greater appreciation of the remarkable items which are in our care.”
Accompanying the exhibition will be a programme of activities including a six-week series of free public lectures, schools workshops, a short introductory film, and an online resource to help researchers study and interpret the documents.
Sue Bowers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, one of the sponsors of the exhibition, added, “Magna Carta is one of the world’s most important documents and is still hugely relevant to our lives today. This project brings to light three copies that illustrate how it was used as the cornerstone of lawmaking in the 13th and 14th centuries.”
In addition to the generous awards received to fund the exhibition, the Society also received support from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Art Conservation Project to conserve the two volumes containing the 1215 draft and 1225 reissue. Without this conservation, it would not be possible for the Society to display the delicate and fragile documents and thus hold the public exhibition.
“Our Art Conservation Project—which to date has provided grants to museums in 27 countries supporting 72 projects—is designed to preserve artistic and historic treasures and to help bring these to life through education outreach and exhibitions,” said Andrea Sullivan, head of Corporate Social Responsibility for EMEA at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “We are proud to contribute to the Society’s landmark exhibition and to help conserve such a significant component of British heritage.”