Object Handling Workshop at the John Rylands Research Institute and Library

by | Oct 5, 2022 | Uncategorised | 0 comments

This blog entry has been written by Florrie Badley.


On 24th June 2022, postgraduate students form the University of Manchester, alongside members of the general public, attended an object handling workshop at The John Rylands Research Institute and Library. Attendees had the opportunity to engage with a vast range of objects from the Rylands collections, in the company of the library’s archivists, curators and conservators. The programme for the day included an object handling initiation in the collection care lab, interactive talks on the materiality of objects and a technical tour of the conservation measures taken to display rare books in the ‘Designing Dante’ exhibition. Other exciting experiences ranged from a first-hand insight into the library’s new British Pop Archive, to the rare chance to see the ancient papyrus scroll Demotic 9, and to hear about the innovative conservation procedures currently being carried out on it.

This practical event was held in conjunction with the interdisciplinary conference ‘Integrated Objects: Critical Thinking with Things,’ organised by postgraduate researchers in the Art History and Cultural Practices department at the University of Manchester. The collective’s own Florrie Badley and Niels Weijenberg were among the co-organisers of this conference, alongside Katy Jackson. The aim was to share methodologies for interpreting and working practically with artworks, historical artifacts and other fragments of material culture as researchers in the humanities. It was not possible to have any such objects on-site during the conference, however. Hence, this object-oriented workshop was arranged for the following day, which enabled the discussions to continue in the presence of physical collection items.

For many, this was the first time since the pandemic (and for some, the first time altogether) that it had been possible to view and interact with special collections objects up-close. Thanks to the Rylands for hosting, and a special thanks to Aya Van Renterghem for organising the event. This workshop was also generously supported by the university’s Covid-19 Recovery fund.


Postgraduate researchers looking at Demotic 9.



A religious coffer containing a fifteenth-century devotional woodcut.



Postgraduate researchers looking at nineteenth-century colonial magic lantern slides from the Christian Brethren archive.