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The British Library Bringing knowledge to life: The British Library Annual Report and Accounts 2007/08

More stories about Understanding

Our exhibitions and events engage diverse audiences, increasing understanding of the common threads that bind different cultures across centuries and continents.

Sacred: Discover what we share

Featuring some of the world’s most important and beautiful religious texts from Christianity, Islam and Judaism, Sacred attracted more than 200,000 visitors during its five month run – the highest total for any of our exhibitions to date.

Some 1,325 visitors a day saw spectacular items like the 12th century Silos Apocalypse, four volumes of Sultan Baybars’ Qur’an and the Golden Haggadah displayed alongside rarely-shown treasures such as a Torah from 17th century China and a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

97% of visitors said they would recommend Sacred to a friend and the media were unanimous in their praise, with Rachel Campbell-Johnston of The Times describing the exhibition as ‘magnificent’ and Laura Gascoigne of The Tablet declaring it ‘an education as well as an aesthetic treat. It should also be a pilgrimage destination for all believers that the truth has more than one face'.

Back to main story | A slideshow of Sacred: Discover What We Share


Sacred beyond the galleries

We made 67 texts from Sacred available online, along with video of public events, podcasts of our curators and Turning the Pages versions of the Lisbon Bible and a 17th century Ethiopian Bible manuscript. The Sacred website attracted over 100,000 unique visitors from over 100 countries. 385 websites and 70 blogs linked to the site and it was widely praised by journalists and bloggers for its interactive and comment facilities.

Nearly 6,000 young learners took part in our onsite workshops and our extensive regional programme took elements of the main exhibition out to locations ranging from Glasgow to Glastonbury. The regional activities attracted a further 12,145 visitors.

Sacred on Location has since gone on to Wandsworth Prison, where we trained a group of prisoners to give tours to fellow inmates and lead creative workshops exploring the links between the three Abrahamic faiths.

Back to main story | Sacred on Location at Wandsworth Prison


Breaking the Rules

Our other major exhibition, Breaking the Rules: The Printed Face of the European Avant Garde 1900 – 1937 provided a dazzling counterpoint to the hallowed texts of Sacred. It drew on our unrivalled collection of literary manuscripts, sound recordings, posters, manifestos, and artists’ books, and examined artistic movements ranging from Futurism to Dada.

Our themed events gave new audiences the chance to sample the wilder side of avant garde performance art: around 700 people packed into The Future of Sound on 9 November, 76% of whom were first-time visitors to the Library.

Back to main story | More about Breaking the Rules

Breaking the Rules

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