Friday, 11 January 2013

Free places; John Rylands Library, Manchester

Last night we stayed in Manchester so today we took the opportunity to visit some of the beautiful buildings in the city centre that are open to the public for FREE, though of course donations are requested to help keep these wonderful buildings going.

The John Rylands Library is on Deansgate and contains some very special and impressive collections. It was built and opened in 1900 by Enriqueta Augustina Rylands as a tribute to her dead husband, who was a textile manufactured and somewhat of a philanthropist  The building itself is stunning; you enter through a modern extension, go past the gift shop and cafe, up some stairs and suddenly you enter another world, a cathedral of books in an intricate gothic style, which looks like a large church from the outside. Carved red sandstone, wood panelling  wood carvings, statues and stained glass - you get the picture. Even before you get to the books and exhibits, you're marvelling at the splendid surroundings and trying to take it all in.

The library houses some very impressive documents. It's most famous is a papyrus fragment of the New Testament, dating from around 125AD. Many of the rare or unique books and documents on display relate to the history of Manchester or historical figures linked to the area, and it's interesting to get a glimpse of the city's lively and busy past in this way.
There are also regular changing exhibitions. At the moment there's a Clockwork Orange exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the Anthony Burgess novel and a display of very impressive entries in the 36th annual Designer Bookbinders Competition. Free tours of the library are also run on a regular basis where you can look around the parts of the building that aren't usually open to the public - definitely something I'm going to plan my next trip to Manchester around.

If you're ever in Manchester for a night or two I recommend having a look around and seeing it for yourself. You can find out more about it, including it's collections, forthcoming exhibitions and directions here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi..its nice to go somewhere interesting and the bonus being its free...we have a lovely little to all..a donation if you want to or not..we always donate a small amount..we love going to it..lots of little things to look for that we didn't spot last time.