Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A passion for pageantry on display in Lancaster

A new exhibition at Lancaster City Museum celebrates the 100th anniversary of a colourful pageant which involved more than one thousand volunteers.

The Pageant of 1913: Acting out Lancaster's History marks the anniversary of this remarkable event, which involved re-enactments of scenes from local history. The exhibition opens this Saturday (20 July) and runs until Saturday 5 October.

Heather Dowler, Lancashire County Council's museum manager for the City Museum, explained: "In the first half of the 20th century, the English-speaking world developed a passion for ‘historical pageants’ that were spectacular, dramatic outdoor re-enactments of scenes from local history that were performed over several days! or even a week.

"Each pageant had its own specially commissioned script, music, dancing and artwork. It required a cast of more than one thousand local people drawn from all sections of the local community and the support of armies of dedicated volunteer organisers.

"Lancaster's pageant was no different. This exhibition looks at the key individuals involved, the scale of the organisation, along with what actually took place."

Objects from the 1913 pageant will be on display, along with items from other years. Visitors will be able to see a costume worn in 1913 and one from the 1930 pageant.

Lancashire County Council's library service has loaned items to the exhibition including a fascinating scrapbook believed to have been created by James Dowbiggin, the former borough librarian and Storey museum curator.

The scrapbook contains photographs, letters and newspaper clippings. It helps to paint a picture of the pageant and the scale of organisation behind it. The exhibition text is the result of Dr Mike Winstanley's research into the subject.

• On Monday 22 July at 1pm, Dr Mike Winstanley will hold a free talk on the city's historical pageants 1913-53. Places need to be booked on 01524 64637.

• Every Thursday during the school holidays, there'll be a family programme with activities. Visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums or call 01524 64637 for more details. Sessions are free but pre-booking is required.

Lancashire County Council manages the City Museum on behalf of Lancaster City Council.

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