Things have been a little quiet on the exhibition front recently, but all that is about to change. For the last two years the Archives Centre has been planning a major overseas Churchill exhibition, and from 8 June until 23 September, all our labours will finally come to fruition: Churchill goes to New York!
The exhibition, entitled “Churchill: The Power of Words”, will be held at the Morgan Library & Museum, and will be one of the biggest events the Archives Centre has ever put on. Besides some 48 original documents from our own archives, covering the whole of Churchill’s life, we are also using recordings of his great wartime speeches, producing an interactive timeline, and the National Trust, which runs Churchill’s old home at Chartwell, are kindly lending us precious artefacts such as Churchill’s iconic bowtie, his Nobel Prize medal and the state of the art silent typewriter which produced some of the most famous phrases of the twentieth century. A wonderful centrepiece will be provided by Churchill’s grant of Honorary US Citizenship, signed by President Kennedy, and his accompanying American passport.
Fabric sample for one of Churchill’s schoolboy suits, 1890, CHAR 28/18/41
Two years ago, when we started planning this exhibition, it all seemed safely remote: after all, 48 documents don’t sound like very much (though our conservator, who has had all the fun of preparing them and arranging for their transport across the Atlantic might not agree). Just lately, though, time has speeded up in an alarming way, and working on the exhibition has felt rather like wrestling with a many-headed hydra: you finish one job, and then find that two more have popped up to take its place.
Churchill’s only novel, Savrola (or A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania), 1899
There have been so many jobs to do that the Archives Centre staff have been split into teams, individually tackling the original documents for display, the recordings, arranging the loan of the artefacts, and sourcing and producing about 200 images. Many of these images are going to be used on the timeline (my own particular area), and I can safely say that I never knew we had so many. One thing that will come out of this exhibition is a greatly improved range of Churchill-related digital images, which should be of great use to us (and our researchers) in the future. We also know a lot more about the extremely tangled history of Churchill’s recorded speeches (which should be a great comfort to those of my colleagues who were driven almost to screaming point by the legal thicket surrounding copyright in audio recordings).
Citation from the Mayor of New York for Churchill’s distinguished and exceptional public service, 1946, CHWL 226 box 55.
“Churchill: The Power of Words” has been a huge project for us, but the exhibition is already looking amazing, and should hopefully be an equally huge success. Have a look at this specially-produced website on the exhibition, and this press release from the Morgan Library & Museum. More blogs to follow …