The Paper Museum: The Curious Eye Of Cassiano Dal Pozzo

The Paper Museum: The Curious Eye Of Cassiano Dal Pozzo is the latest pop up exhibition at the Barber Institute.

Co curated by MA Art History and Curating students, it’s the second exhibition in the partnership between the Royal Collection Trust and the Barber.

Cassiano dal Pozzo was an Italian patron of the arts who was driven by a desire to document the world around him. Along with his brother Carlo Antonio they amassed a collection of 10,000-plus watercolours, drawings and prints which covered many topics including  antiquities, architecture, zoology, botany and geology. 

The Paper Museum was later sold off to collectors including George III whose accumulated works later formed part of the Royal Collection.

Cassiano commissioned artists to record works of art, architecture and natural specimens on paper, highlights of the exhibition include drawings of a fingered lemon, a pelican and an African civet posed to show off it’s anal glands. Many of the drawings are attributed to Vincenzo Leonardi including a sheet of specimens showing 25 individual geological samples and fossils.  Actual examples of 22 of these have been loaned to the exhibition by the Lapworth Museum of Geology which is also on the University of Birmingham campus.

The University’s Cadbury Research Library has also collaborated and loaned three rare books including a copy of Historiae Animalium.

Although most of the works on show featured natural history the collection also contains artefacts such as chains worn by christian martyrs and an imagined reconstruction of a Roman public banquet.

Cassiano’s curiosity about the world around him is evident throughout the exhibition. I think if he were alive today I wouldn’t be surprised if he were an instagrammer uploading images of things that piqued his interest. As cameras weren’t around in his day he had to commission artists instead which resulted in a rather remarkable collection.




Ends 1st September, for more info click here

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