Discovering the University’s Cultural Treasures

August 14 / 141

Professor Reynard Eastley (PhD Stories and Adventures),  (AKA Bernard Caleo, the actor) taking children on his tour of the campus.
Professor Reynard Eastley (PhD Stories and Adventures), (AKA Bernard Caleo, the actor) taking children on his tour of the campus.

The University has shown off its extraordinary collection in the Cultural Treasures Festival on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 July.

The biennial festival included a diverse range of exhibitions, guided tours, talks and seminars which revealed the riches collected through the University’s teaching and academic disciplines, dating from its first decades.

Ms Susie Shears, Cultural Collections Co-ordinator, Bailieu Library, said “The depth, diversity and size of the University’s museums and collections is unequalled by any other Australian university.”

“The rich tradition of collecting at the University is vividly reflected in its diverse museums, scientific collections, archives, libraries and public art. Visitors can experience and savour the past through this material,” she said.

 This includes the historic daisy specimens in the University Herbarium, collected by Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Daniel Solander on the first exploratory voyages to Australia in the early 1770s; the skeleton of the extinct New Zealand moa in the Tiegs Museum; Percy Grainger's extraordinary collection of musical instruments, and the rarity of the work of Renaissance printmakers in the Baillieu Library Print Collection.

One of the highlights was the display of one of only 22 complete Gutenberg Bibles in the University’s Baillieu Library. Its display coincided with the Melbourne Rare Book Fair in Wilson Hall and Melbourne Rare Books Week.

Printed in Mainz, Germany around 1450, the Bible was on loan from Manchester University's John Rylands Library.  The Bible was the first significant book printed in the west using Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of movable type. It is in Latin Vulgate, and has been credited with beginning the democratisation of books, and more significantly, of literacy.

 University Librarian Philip Kent said this particular edition of the Bible previously belonged to the Second Earl Spencer who amassed a fabulous library of rare books.  

"Another connection is that Melbourne’s Spencer Street is named in honour of the same Second Earl who owned the Gutenberg Bible.  The copy is in two volumes in magnificent bindings bearing the Earl’s arms and insignia, and its pages are richly decorated with illumination in the medieval style,” Mr Kent said.

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