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Collection: William Hunter Tercentenary Research Project

William Hunter Tercentenary Research Project

Formed at the very inception of the notion of the modern museum, and established as a public institution to be used a source of knowledge and instruction, the Hunterian collection, encompassing outstanding paintings and works on paper, coins and medals, palaeontology and mineralogy, anatomical and zoological specimens, first-contact ethnographic material, shells, insects, mediaeval manuscripts and incunabula, located within the intellectual structure of the 10,000 or so volumes of major ‘working’ libraries of eighteenth-century London, remains a uniquely coherent Enlightenment survival.

A number of research and exhibition programmes undertaken chiefly in Glasgow over the last decade have begun a process of recovering the truly unique place of Hunter and his collections in our understanding of the Enlightenment in Scotland and beyond. The 2018 tercentenary will be the first opportunity to reassess Hunter and his collections on an international basis and to locate them coherently in their broader European and North American context. To develop the research themes and an understanding of current scholarship in this field, two international research workshops were held in Glasgow 2014, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. A further programme is currently in preparation.

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