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Visitors shed light on Leicester’s photographic history

Published on Thursday, January 25, 2024

2 minute read

Aerial view of the Clock Tower

MORE than 15,000 visitors have so far explored an exhibition blending archive photographs and paintings of Leicester in the first six weeks of its opening.

The free exhibition – entitled Leicester Vistas – is the result of painstaking work by volunteers from Leicester Museums and Galleries to catalogue and showcase images from over 175,000 archive photographs and 30,000 packets of negatives dating from the 1930s to the present day.

Visitors, who can contribute information to digital labels located around the exhibition, have even helped solve some of the mysteries around images from Leicester’s past.

One of the main images on show – a photo of the city’s industrial skyline which is paired with a painting of the same view by artist Norman Ernest Ellis – has now been identified as the view from the roof of the Colleges of Art and Technology, near the present-day site of De Montfort University, in January 1954.

Another local visitor has been provided with a copy of an archive image in which their family appear, with the digital labels proving to be a valuable source of gathering local knowledge and information on the images.

Leicester deputy city mayor for climate, economy and culture, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: “This free exhibition has proved to be very popular with visitors some of whom have contributed helpful information and local knowledge which has helped us to understand more fully the context and locations of some of these archive images.

“Our museum volunteers have been working their way through this extensive archive of pictures since 2014, to catalogue and record them into a digital format, in order to assemble this really astonishing exhibition of the city’s history over the last century.”

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.

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

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