A new record is being set at the University of Birmingham-based Barber Institute of Fine Arts – despite the star of the exhibition being unknown to the vast majority of visitors!

Even the masterpieces of the great British Romantic painter JMW Turner are being put in the shade by the work of his Norwegian counterpart Johan Christian Dahl, as visitor figures just released show.

The exhibition ‘Moonrise over Europe: JC Dahl and Romantic Landscape’ is currently attracting an average of 239 visitors per day to the Art Deco gallery – awarded the accolade ‘Art Gallery of the Year’ by the most recent edition of The Good Britain Guide – an unprecedentedly high figure for the small university museum.

The previous record was set at the Barber two years ago, during the exhibition ‘The Sun rising through Vapour’: Turner’s early Seascapes, when visitor numbers for the exhibition averaged 232 visitors a day, with a phenomenal 1,550 people visiting on the closing weekend.

‘Moonrise over Europe’ originated four years ago with the purchase by the Barber of Dahl’s beautiful little Dahl masterpiece ‘Mother and Child by the Sea’, 1840, one of only two works in British collections by the artist known as the Father of Norwegian Painting.

More than three years of painstaking research by the Barber’s Director Richard Verdi and Senior Curator Paul Spencer-Longhurst followed, with the pair sifting through curatorial records in Britain, Norway and Germany to find out more about the mesmerising painting and the artist, a close friend of the great German Landscapist, Caspar David Friedrich before the exhibition could be staged.

Dr Spencer-Longhurst said: “It goes to show how crucial academic research is in a university museum for assembling a serious, well-focused and popular exhibition, and it has allowed us to make exciting discoveries and connections with other works and collections here and abroad.

“It’s good that we can give Dahl the status he deserves, and obviously it’s a sign of his greatness that the exhibition is ranking in popularity with – if not exceeding – those shows featuring other great landscapists of the 19th century such as Turner. This is a rare chance to see so many beautiful ‘moonlights’ together in one exhibition in Britain, let alone the Midlands.”

‘Moonrise over Europe: JC Dahl and Romantic Landscape’ runs at the Barber Institute until 23 April 2006, and is open daily (closed Good Friday 15 April), Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm; Sunday 12noon – 5pm. Admission is free.

To check out some of the pictures at the exhibition online, visit: www.barber.org.uk/moonrise.html


For further information, images or to set up an interview with Dr Spencer-Longhurst or Prof Richard Verdi, contact Barber Press and Marketing Officer Andrew Davies on 0121 414 2946/07769 958114 or andrewdavies@barber.org.uk

Note to Broadcast Media:

Moving footage/interviews are available free of charge as a package to broadcast media via Research TV, due for streaming via APTN on Tuesday 21 March from 12.15-12.25 GMT – contact http://www.Research-TV.com for details / to request footage.