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Exhibition of photos and paintings brings alive city’s history

Published on Tuesday, November 14, 2023

2 minute read

A Leicester Vista, by Norman Ernest Ellis © the Artist’s Estate

LEICESTER’S past is being brought to life in a free exhibition charting the city’s history through photographs and paintings.

Archive images and artwork cataloguing the city’s industrial, social and cultural past are being brought together in the exhibition, entitled Leicester Vistas, which will take pride of place at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery from November 18.

It is the result of ongoing work by a team of volunteers from Leicester Museums and Galleries, to catalogue and assemble more than 175,000 archive photographs and 30,000 packets of negatives from the 1930s to the present day.

The exhibition pairs items from the museums service’s fine art collection, capturing Leicester through an artist’s eye, alongside contrasting photographs from the city council’s extensive photographic archive, many of which have never been seen before in public.

The fine art collection has been built up over the last 140 years and is still growing thanks to a combination of donations and the support of the City of Leicester Museums Trust. Recently acquired works by artists Robert King, Olwyn Hughes and Rigby Graham will be featured for the first time in this new exhibition.

With much information about the exact locations or dates of some of the photographs missing, visitors can also get involved by sharing their knowledge on digital labels positions around the gallery to help fill in the blanks around the historic images.

Leicester deputy city mayor for climate, economy and culture, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: “Our museum volunteers have been working their way through this extensive archive of photographs and images since 2014, to catalogue and record them into a digital format.

“The result is this remarkable exhibition matching local paintings with some of these thousands of snapshots to give a unique glimpse into the city’s history over the last century.

“It is also a chance for people to share their local knowledge of these images, so that we can better understand their context and significance and record that information for future generations of museum visitors to enjoy.”

Leicester Vistas is free to explore, along with the rest of the museum. It runs at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, New Walk, from Saturday, November 18, 2023 until Sunday, March 10, 2024. 

More information on exploring Leicester’s 2,000-year history is available at the Story Of Leicester website here:



Image credit: A Leicester Vista Norman Ernest Ellis © the Artist’s Estate