The Exhibition
Featuring twenty carefully curated and thematically diverse exhibits organised into four virtual exhibition rooms (each of which contains five thematically linked exhibits), this exhibition presents a vibrant panorama of the community’s historical and cultural heritage across time and space. Chosen from Downside’s own collections and including materials rarely or never displayed before, these fascinating artefacts together span over a thousand years and come from the British Isles, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, the Vatican, Russia and even Australia. Brought together within a single exhibition, they combine into a rich yet largely untapped repository of historical knowledge that connects monastic life at Downside with a wide range of times and places, from Roman settlements in Somerset to medieval German monasteries, and from Russia at the eve of the Revolution to the beaches of Dunkirk in World War II.

All exhibits were chosen and curated through close collaboration between Downside’s community and a team of academic researchers from the University of Bristol under the direction of Dr Benjamin Pohl, the project’s principal investigator. A core aim was to understand and showcase the different ways in which history reveals itself within Downside’s community, and to acknowledge that these histories matter for different reasons to different people. Each label was drafted by the individual or group responsible for the exhibit’s selection, thus allowing their voice to be preserved and the reasons for their choice to be heard. Exhibition visitors can therefore expect to discover embedded in each exhibit a multitude of (hi)stories that continue to shape the lives and identities of people both inside and outside the monastic community.

Those interested in learning more about the exhibits and studying them in greater detail are invited to contact Downside’s Archives, Library and Heritage Department.