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Reading Circle

Past Exhibitions

Past Exhibitions and Displays

London's Theatre of the East
November 2019 - February 2020

Dr Johnson's House and The Arab British Centre, neighbouring organisations collaborated on a joint project, London’s Theatre of the East. It invited artists, researchers and the public to (re)examine the historical connections of the Middle East and North Africa and London, via the lens of Dr Johnson’s 1749 play, Irene, set during the fall of Constantinople.

Dr Samuel Johnson’s Greatcoat - Louise Whittles
October 2018 - May 2019

London based artist Louise Whittles, contructed Samuel Johnson's greatcoat. Embedding it with wire net, it became frozen in time as if being blown by the strong Hebridian winds.

Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1779-81)
April - July 2019

A special exhibition of prints, books, and related publications to mark the 240th anniversary of Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1779-81), a collection of biographies for 52 writers.

Curious Travellers: Dr Johnson and Thomas Pennant on Tour
5 October 2018 - January 2019

This exhibition explored the genre of travel-writing as it emerges in the 18th century through the Scottish and Welsh tours of Thomas Pennant and Samuel Johnson. Both men, through their writings, sparked a curiosity in their readers, inspiring many of them to undertake similar journeys.

London: A Poem
5 October 2017- 5 February 2018

An exhibition to mark the 280th anniversary of London: A Poem’s publication. This display explored Samuel Johnson’s first independently published work. This included a rare first edition of the poem, a copy of The Third Satire by the Roman Poet Juvenal, alongside a variety of images depicting London in the 1730s.

Johnson and Garrick: A Friendship in constant repair
5 October 2017- 5 February 2018

An exhibition organised in collaboration with the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum exploring the life of the David Garrick. Garrick, a student of Johnson at Ediall, became the most recognised celebrity of the 18th-century London stage.

Collecting Johnson
1 July - 16 October 2017

An exhibition of Johnsoniana from private collections around the world. This display featured rare pamphlets, first editions and portrait of Johnson that are not usually on display to the public.

Zanzibar's Story: Remembering the Past, Securing the Future
Presented by World Monuments Fund Britain
13 January - 29 March 2016

This touring exhibition by WMFB told the story of the last permanent slave market in East Africa, and its legacy, the construction of Christ Church Cathedral on the site. Accompanied by an exhibit, 'Johnson, Barber and Thoughts on Liberty', which explored Johnson's progressive views on the subject of slavery.

Shakespeare in the 18th century: Johnson, Garrick and friends
10 August to 28 November 2015

A special display of artwork, books and ephemera exploring the treatment of Shakespeare during the 18th century on both the page and the stage. This exhibition marked the 250th anniversary of Johnson's critical edition of Shakespeare's plays (1765).

(Now that would be) Telling
01 October to 01 November 2011

Writer Hallie Rubenhold and artist Hayley Lock merged fact and fiction as they presented new work inspired by the story of Johnson’s manservant, the former slave, Francis Barber. Part of a project spanning five historic houses.

Telling Tales: Stories from Dr Johnson’s House 1911-2011
6 April to 30 July 2011

Celebrating 100 years since the House was saved, restored and opened to the public, and displaying rarely seen archive material, this exhibition told the quirkier stories from the House’s last century of history.

The House of Words
2 June to 29 August 2009

Installations and interventions by seven contemporary artists, inspired by Johnson, his work and his home, this exhibition formed part of the Samuel Johnson tercentenary celebrations.

Tea and Coffee in the Age of Dr Johnson
26 September to 13 December 2008

Charting the rise in popularity of tea and coffee in the eighteenth century, this exhibition highlighted the habits and opinions of one of tea’s most ardent fans, Samuel Johnson.

A most agreeable place: Dr Johnson, James Boswell and the Inner Temple
15 April to 27 May 2008

Displaying original documents, drawings and watercolours, this display celebrated the Inner Temple’s associations with Samuel Johnson, who ‘held court’ here for five years, and his biographer, James Boswell, called to the bar in 1786.

Behind the Scenes: The Hidden Life of Georgian Theatre 1737-1784
16 April to 18 September 2007

Exploring the hidden lives of actors, managers and playwrights, Behind the Scenes took a closer look at the theatrical world of Dr Johnson and David Garrick.

The Tyranny of Treatment: Samuel Johnson, his Friends and Georgian Medicine
18 September 2003 to 31 January 2004

This exhibition uncovered the often gruesome treatments available to the long suffering Johnson and his contemporaries in an age before anaesthetics.

Era Vati installation of projections of Robert Levet and Francis Barber from teh 2009 House of Words exhibition

Reflections (2009), mixed media installation by Era Vati.
Part of The House of Words exhibition

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