It was my very great pleasure to be shown around the Royal College of Physician’s exhibition, Scholar, Courtier, Magician: The Lost Library of John Dee, last week before the event opened to the public. The RCP is the sometimes-proud owner of the largest number of books remaining from Dee’s original library. Having them on display at the college itself seems only fitting.
What is similarly fitting is that the exhibition itself is in the main atrium near the entrance, spread over two floors. I was told the reason for this is -because the college continues to do what it has done over the last five hundred years- which is to be a college, there aren’t really ‘exhibition spaces’. There are just ‘rooms not currently in use.’ It adds an extra level of lived reality to the collection that it must accommodate the living as well.
And it’s the living Dee you get a particular sense of, thanks to the exhibition’s very thoughtful curation. Regular readers of this blog will presumably already be well aware of Dee’s channelling adventures, his spying, his participation in the Continental hermetic underground and all the rest. Whilst you certainly get a sense of Dee the sorcerer, you also get a sense of Dee the student, Dee the thinker… Dee the human.
A number of you have shared some of the coverage of the enigma of the famous painting with me on the Facebook page or twitter. I haven’t responded because I got the inside scoop last week, suckers! Anyway, there is a whole section on it in the video below.
Please, please do share the video of my interview/tour on your various books of face, twitters and so on. The exhibition organisers were exceedingly accommodating in giving their time to this little ol’ blogger (admittedly with a digital footprint not to be sniffed at). Share it so that people who can possibly come to see it know that it’s on. Let’s get the weirdo bush telegraph going!
And do come and see it yourselves if it is at all possible.
PS – Apologies for the background noise. It’s a working medical college!