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The Macclesfield Psalter - back on display

The Macclesfield Psalter goes back on display as Dr Stella Panayotova leaves us to become Royal Librarian and Assistant Keeper of the Royal Archives.

In case 9 of Gallery 32 a small illuminated manuscript has gone back on display. The Macclesfield Psalter (MS I-2005) was acquired for the Museum in 2005, and overseeing its acquisition and subsequent conservation is just one of the many achievements of Dr Panayotova during her twenty-one years in Cambridge (nineteen at the Museum). Stella came to the Fitz in October 2000 to head the department of Manuscripts and Printed Books (MSSPB) and the Museum’s Reference Library, then widely regarded as impenetrable to scholars, students and the public alike. Now MSSPB is viewed as one of the leading and most accessible centres for the study of illuminated manuscripts in the world. In large part that is thanks to two great interdisciplinary research projects that she has master-minded and managed: The Cambridge Illuminations (since 2004) and MINIARE (since 2012). These have opened up the Museum’s collection, embraced the collections of over thirty Cambridge libraries, and involved academics from Cambridge, the UK and overseas. These projects have resulted, not least, in seven catalogues, two highly popular exhibitions (The Cambridge Illuminations in 2005 and COLOUR in 2016) and their catalogues, and three volumes of international conference proceedings. These and her other projects – The Pigments of British Illuminators (2018-2020, AHRC, with Durham University) and Unveiling the Invisible (2018-2020, Leverhulme, with DAMTP, Classics and the HKI) – have brought a number of new posts to the Fitz: our first Research Scientist, MSSPB’s technician, its first Assistant Keeper, a second Conservator, and a sequence of nine research associates.

Major acquisitions include the Macclesfield Psalter (2005), Thomas Hardy’s annotated proofs of Jude the Obscure (2008), our collection of contemporary calligraphy and the Archive of Walter Strachan. Stella has raised a grand total of £5,170,000 for these projects and others, and to support all the different functions of the department.

The Macclesfield Psalter was purchased by the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, with grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the National Art Collections Fund, The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Friends of the National Libraries, the Cadbury Trust and with contributions from a public appeal launched by the National Art Collections Fund.

We wish Stella well in her new post!

27 August 2019

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