Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chester Beatty A-Z

The current feature exhibit at Dublin's fabulous (and free!) Chester Beatty Library is an overview of the man and the collection, covering every letter of the (English, it should be noted) alphabet. I had heard good things about this temporary exhibit and made a note to see it before it closed. My go-to Dublin Event Guide announced a free lunchtime tour of the collection by the museum director, and I didn't need any more prompting.

The display is called Chester Beatty's A-Z: from Amulet to Zodiac. It was a curator's-choice exhibit, displaying a wide range of rarely-and-never-before-seen items from the sizable collection. No photos are allowed in the library, so you'll have to imagine for now until you can see for yourself.

B is naturally for Beatty, the man with the collection. He spent his life and his fortune in the early 20th century traveling Europe, the Middle East, and Asia collecting the finest works of art and literature. When he died, he passed on the entire collection to Ireland, and the curators of this library do a great job presenting pieces with interpretive materials and explanations.

J is for Jade, and Mr. Beatty had a great collection of Chinese jade artwork, including small snuff bottles and hand-engraved books with pages of jade and ink of gold leaf.

T is for Travel, the display is a collection of old European travel texts. The highlight here is the 16th-century book detailing the most famous islands of the known world, including an inaccurate map and colorful description of an island called, Irlanda.

The tour was great, and I would highly recommend checking the library's Events Schedule and Twitter feed for the latest tours and talks. If you aren't around at tour time, catch the A-Z exhibit anyway. It's worth a visit, and it runs until February 2015.

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