Revealing World Cultures
The collections divide broadly into themes of Sacred and Secular. The Sacred Traditions gallery exhibits the sacred texts, illuminated manuscripts and miniature paintings from the great religions and systems of belief - Christianity, Islam and Buddhism - with smaller displays on Confucianism, Daoism, Sikhism and Jainism. Stylised architectural expressions echo the religious cultures represented. Arresting audiovisual presentations explore often controversial rites of passage. Interactive displays examine how objects were created, vary the pace and offer opportunities for exploration and insight.
In 2007 the Library undertook a major renovation of its first floor. The Arts of the Book gallery is neutral with limited head height. In order to use the totality of the volume, the central third of the gallery ceiling was raised and lighting inserted to enhance the perception of height.
A custom designed suite of monolithic showcases reinforces the impression of elevation, their solidity contrasting with the scale and jewel like refinement of the objects they contain. Carefully considered mounts and lighting enable visitors to appreciate the detail of exquisite bindings, brushwork and calligraphy. Displays are spiced with visual surprises. The inclusion of work by contemporary artists expresses both change and continuity.
Scope of works
1998 – 2001
‘Working with Event to re-imagine the Chester Beatty Library was one of the most satisfying experiences of my career. Moving from the conceptual to the practical stage involved us working closely with designers and project managers, a process in which long-term working relationships were forged.
Winning the European Museum of the Year Award 2002 was the icing on the cake. ’
Dr Michael Ryan
Director, Chester Beatty Library