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‘John Ruskin 19th-century visionary: 21st-century inspiration’

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference -Mixed Audience


Conference paper entitled ‘Ruskin: Museum of the Near Future

Abstract: The Ruskin Library (RL) is home to the premier collection of the epoch-defining artist, critic, environmentalist and social thinker John Ruskin (1819-1900). It houses thousands of paintings and drawings, books and manuscripts, prints, photographs and 125 daguerreotypes, including amongst the earliest known images of Venice.
To celebrate the bicentenary of Ruskin’s birth in 2019, Lancaster University is launching a new cross disciplinary Research Centre, based in the Ruskin Library. Working with visitors and scholars from across the world, the Centre aims to explore how Ruskin's ideas and work can unlock the pressing cultural, social and environmental issues of today and tomorrow.
This presentation will explore the ambitions of the new Centre as a ‘Museum of the Near Future’ through an examination of Ruskin as an intensely futures-orientated thinker. As a collector, curator, and conservator, Ruskin was at the forefront of his time in regarding heritage as a set of practices in the present, shaping futures in part through recovering and communicating the past. His works also embrace, resist, criticise and recontextualize the future through new technologies—including the ‘most marvellous invention of the century’, the daguerreotype (Works 3.210 n). At the same time, Ruskin was deeply aware of the dehumanizing potential of technological advance for its own sake. ‘The artist is as a telescope’, he remarked: ‘very marvellous in himself, as an instrument. But I think, on the whole, the stars are the principal part of the affair.’ (Works 36.213)
Ruskin’s synthesis of spiritual, aesthetic and scientific aspects of close looking was combined with his profound awareness of how the profusion of the material world and artworks and objects transform themselves into catalysts for ideas, philosophies, visions and re-imagined worlds in every epoch.

Event (Conference)

Title‘John Ruskin 19th-century visionary: 21st-century inspiration’
LocationHuntingdon Library
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Degree of recognitionInternational event