Students studying on the MA Art History and Curating programme at the University of Birmingham have been attracting outstanding reviews for their latest exhibition at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Each year, students are required to co-curate an exhibition at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts as part of their ‘Curatorial Practices’ Module. The exhibition, which takes place in the summer term, gives students the opportunity to learn about the various aspects of organising an exhibition, and underlying theories and practices.

This year’s exhibition, which opened on 14 June 2019, is dedicated to the numerous illustrations commissioned by Cassiano dal Pozzo at the beginning of the sixteenth century in Rome. In an attempt to produce a visual encyclopaedia of knowledge, it formed a so-called ‘Paper Museum’, covering around 10,000 drawings, watercolours and prints of antiquities, architecture, zoology, botany and geology, social customs and ceremonies, costumes, portraits, topography and military maps. The Paper Museum is now part of the Royal Collection after it was acquired by George III in 1762.

The exhibition, the second in an annual collaboration between the Barber and Royal Collection Trust, explores a selection of these works on paper. It is enhanced with fossil and mineral specimens, loaned from the University’s Lapworth Museum of Geology, and rare books form the University’s Cadbury Research Library.

Combined with a number of planned events suitable for all ages, the exhibition has been gathering exceptional reviews.

19th century drawing of the head of a pelican

Jonathan Jones of the Guardian (who was on the Jury for the 2009 Turner Prize), was the first to offer a 5 star review for the exhibition where he said the students have “done a cracking job”.

Dr Jutta Vinzent, Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art and Visual Culture, commented “A five-star review is difficult to achieve for any exhibition. In a review that was full of praise and insights into the works on show, it highlights the successful collaboration between the students, the Barber and the department.”

The exhibition has also been picked up by the prestigious ‘The Art Newspaper’ where it was called “small and perfectly formed”.

The College of Arts and Law would like to congratulate the six students - Beth Brankowski, Mimi Buchanan, Eden Challenger, Lily Cheetham, Poppy Hicklin and Sarah McDermott – on a fantastic achievement.

The exhibition runs until 1 September 2019.