Exhibition and Collections Research Scholar

Neil MacGregor Exhibition and Collections Research Scholar appointed at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

In 2011 The Barber Institute of Fine Arts [External link] appointed its first Neil MacGregor Collections and Exhibitions Research Scholar. Dr Sophie Bostock was in post from December 2011 to May 2012.

About the scholarship

Named after Neil MacGregor, currently Director of the British Museum, the scholarship is financed from donations made to commemorate his previous directorship of the National Gallery. Neil MacGregor was keen to enhance research into regional art collections.

Research focus

Sophie has researched the series of acquisitions of paintings, prints and drawings made by Professor Thomas Bodkin, the Barber Institute's first Director. Professor Bodkin was appointed by the Henry Barber Trust in 1935.

Her work helped preparations for exhibitions and events to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the Barber. A year-long programme is planned for late 2012 and 2013 to mark the foundation by Dame Martha Barber of the University of Birmingham-based Institute.

Loans to the Gallery

Sophie focused in particular on the loan to the National Gallery of key works acquired by Bodkin for the Barber before its building was opened by Queen Mary in July 1939. These include outstanding paintings by major Old Masters such as Simone Martini, Cima, Hals and Poussin, and 19th-century masterpieces by JMW Turner, Manet and Monet. They will be brought together for a loan exhibition to the Gallery over the summer of 2013.

Sophie charted the development and reputation of the Barber as its collections grew during Bodkin's directorship (1935-1952) and studied his close association with dealers, private collectors and the London art establishment – including Kenneth Clark, Director of the National Gallery. She undertook archival research in Birmingham, London and Dublin to inform an essay in the Barber's 80th birthday publication.

MacGregor Research Scholar

Following Sophie’s tenure at the Barber, the next MacGregor Research Scholar is Dr Nicola Gauld who will work from June to December 2012. She will prepare entries for the Barber’s paintings for the online NICE Paintings (National Inventory of Continental European Paintings) [External link] database of Pre-1900 Continental European oil paintings in UK public collections.

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