April 29, 2016, by Sarah Colborne

Grand Tourists and Others: exhibition opens

Levison Wood officially opening 'Grand Tourists and Others' at the Weston Gallery

Levison Wood opening ‘Grand Tourists and Others’.

Intrepid explorer, Levison Wood, author of Walking the Himalayas and University of Nottingham History graduate (2004), journeyed to Nottingham Lakeside Arts to open Manuscripts and Special Collections’ latest exhibition Grand Tourists and Others: Travelling Abroad Before the 20th Century. The exhibition, curated by Levison’s former tutor Dr Ross Balzaretti (School of Humanities), takes the visitor on a journey through the history of travel since the sixteenth century, drawing on the University of Nottingham’s rich archives.

Beginning with the elite ‘Grand Tour’ of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and ending with the more commercial tourism of the mid-nineteenth century, the exhibition explores the travels of local families and others throughout Europe and beyond.
poster for the exhibition Grand Tourists and Others at Nottingham Lakeside Arts
People travelled for education and pleasure, to buy and sell things, to escape pressures at home, and much more besides. The trips of men and women, girls and boys, servants and even pets are recorded. Many places across Europe and some beyond feature among the exhibits, with a special focus on Italy which became and remained the country most people were keen to see.

Exhibits include passports, diaries and journals, sketches, bills, prints, photographs and guide books, objects which are still familiar now when we travel abroad. Follow travellers as they walked around Rome, climbed Vesuvius, boated around Venice, and looked at art in Florence. Watch them shop for the latest fashions in Paris, and bargain in Naples. Travel with them as they try foreign food, attempt to speak the local language, and encounter both danger and excitement; just as we do today.


Illustration showing Italians in native dress, playing an instrument and singing, with the faint outline of a coastal village in the background

‘Italy’, from The World in Miniature (London, 1825).
Briggs Collection LT210.G/W6

Grand Tourists and Others is part of the Season 2 Fringe Programme of The Grand Tour, a partnership of Nottingham Contemporary, Chatsworth, Derby Museums and The Harley Gallery, together with Experience Nottinghamshire and Visit Peak District & Derbyshire, aimed at creating a compelling cultural adventure that is a Grand Tour for our own times. The Fringe Programme of events celebrating the tradition of the Grand Tour, a rite of passage for young gentlemen in the 17th and 18th century, includes Doug Fishbone’s Venice Biennale installation Leisure Land Golf at the New Art Exchange and Derby Cathedral’s exhibition The Enlightenment Cathedral.

Fringe Connections:

  • A selection of passports from the Drury Lowe Collection at The University of Nottingham have been loaned for display in one of the Grand Tour Season Two exhibitions Joseph Wright and the Lure of Italy at Derby Museums.
  • The Grand Tourists and Others exhibition itself features a loan from one of the Fringe partners, Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, of The Castelbarco Tomb in Verona, by Richard Parkes Bonington, a Nottingham-born celebrated of English watercolourist, painted following a tour of northern Italy in 1826.

Further information about The Grand Tour Season Two can be found on the website which features an interactive map of the venues, allowing you to plan a grand tour of your own.

Poster advertising Archives of Travel Talk 5th MayThe exhibition continues until Sunday 7th August and includes a programme of lunchtime talks, a film screening and a workshop for young people. Tickets should be booked in advance via Nottingham Lakeside Arts Box Office on 0115 846 7777.

Tickets are still available for the first lunchtime talk at the Djanogly Theatre, Nottingham Lakeside Arts:

Archives of Travel: Grand Tourists and Others 5 May 2016 1pm-2pm

Gain an insight into the preparations behind the scenes of the exhibition with curator Dr Ross Balzaretti. He explains how the research process for the exhibition took place, and how the resulting exhibits fit into the exciting history of travel since the sixteenth century.

For the latest information about our exhibitions and events, please follow @mssLakeside.


Posted in AnnouncementsExhibitions