Exhibitions at The Leeds Library
The Leeds Library’s exhibition programme aims to bring our collections to life through regular digital and in person displays. Each exhibition focuses on a theme and draws on books from both the historic and contemporary Library collections. Through this unique lens, we explore a multitude of historical and cultural subjects – from the UK and beyond. Here, you can dive into our digital archive to discover previous exhibitions and exclusive digital content.
Yorkshire Art and Artists. May – August 2023
Yorkshire has a long and rich history of inspiring art and producing artists. From famous figures like David Hockney and Barbara Hepworth to lesser-known children’s illustrator Alice Goyder, this exhibition explores just a few of Yorkshire’s plethora of creatives and their work – including some new and exciting ones! Dive in to the colour and history below:
Colonizing Myths and Legends: Exploring Western colonial attitudes in The Leeds Library’s Edwardian myths and legends books. January – April 2023
When selecting books for our in-person Myths and Legends exhibition, we found many Edwardian books written by white British and American authors on the myths and legends of other cultures. During this period, colonialist systems like British Empire were large and well-established – as were the racist and colonialist attitudes they spread amongst the British and American people. The Leeds Library’s books about the cultures and myths of non-white and indigenous peoples record not only the interest that the British public had in the cultures its government was colonizing but the attitudes they commonly held during the period. Find out more about these books and the real cultures they attempted to write about below!
Tutankhamun: The Boy King Rediscovered. October 2022 – January 2023
In November of 1922, Howard Carter and his archeological team uncovered the almost-intact tomb of Tutankhamun. For thousands of years, it had protected his body and over 5,300 ornate artifacts meant to furnish their king in his afterlife – and their glittering quality took the world by storm. As much is evident in the multitude of books The Leeds Library has surrounding the subject! So, to celebrate 100 years since Tutankhamun’s rediscovery, we’ve explored his life, death, and legacy through the pages of our collection. Examine our findings below!
The Inventive Minds of John Smeaton and Johann Beckmann. September – October 2022
This exhibition explores some of the inventions, discoveries, and fascinations of John Smeaton and Johann Beckmann. Both were pioneers in their respective fields of invention, working in the late 18th Century to bring innovation to the use and examination of the public. We will explore their work and lives through the books in our collection, in collaboration with Heritage Open Day 2022.
Summer Holidays. July – August 2022
Everyone remembers the last week of school before the long six week holiday. The teachers seemed more relaxed (and who can blame them?) and some schools held sports days or something similar. For those lucky enough to be going on holiday, this meant packing either for abroad or the UK. The package holiday boom really began in the 1950s, but most families still holidayed in the UK which meant packing for every kind of weather! This exhibition takes a look at the summer holidays exploring where we go, what we do and of course, what we read!
100 Years Later: Ireland and the Leeds Irish. May – July 2022
This exhibition highlights books from our collection related to Ireland and the Irish. Its first half features works commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the partition of Ireland, when it became the Irish Free State under the 1922 Anglo-Irish Treaty. Six counties under Unionist control opted out, and the 1937 Irish constitution renamed ‘Southern Ireland’ to ‘Ireland’. The second half focuses on the Irish diaspora in Leeds, exploring what brought Irish immigrants to our city and their effect on it.
Our flagship digital exhibition traces the history of book cover design throughout the 20th century with examples drawn from The Leeds Library’s own collection. Focusing particularly on why publishers might choose to employ an illustrated cover, or one that is purely typographic, this exhibition also looks at some of the social and cultural history that has influenced book production over the last century.