The university is currently celebrating 20 the opening of the UK’s foremost moving image history. The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum showcases over 80,000 objects relating to film and cinema, many collected over 30 years by renowned filmmaker Bill Douglas, widely acknowledged as one of Britain’s greatest directors, along with his friend Peter Jewell. The collection showcases their passion for film history and culture, and includes the first book published in Britain describing a projected image from 1658 and a Lumière Cinématographe, the type of camera used to make and project the first film shows.
The Museum allows visitors to explore the history of moving and projected images, with exhibits spanning nearly four centuries. After Douglas’ death, Jewell donated the, then around 50,000 objects, to the University of Exeter. After cataloguing and installation by experts led by Professor Richard Maltby and Dr Richard Crangle, the museum opened to the public in 1997.
Dr Phil Wickham, the curator of the museum, said “The museum is now the foremost museum of moving image history in the UK – nowhere else can compare to its breadth, depth and accessibility. The museum and its collections are a unique asset for the University, and for the South West, and more and more people are discovering its delights.”
The museum documents a people’s history of the moving image, with the audience experience playing a pivotal role in the diverse collection, also home to material on Hollywood stars and merchandise produced for current blockbuster films.
The museum, which now houses the archives of Bill Douglas himself, as well as other independent British filmmakers such as Don Boyd, Gavrik Losey and Kames Mackay, is free to enter and is open to all every day. As well as being open to the public, it is used for teaching and research by academics at the university, and by film experts around the world who come to work with the artefacts and records in the collection.