Journey To Middle Earth Exhibition

16th October 2023

Museum visitors in Barnsley will be transported to a magical world at a new exhibition which promises dragons, elves, and haunting soundscapes.

The Magic of Middle-earth is dedicated to the incredible work of J.R.R Tolkien and the generations of writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, environmentalists, creators and game designers he influenced.

The exhibition, which opened on September 30 at Experience Barnsley Museum, allows visitors to go beyond ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ epic fantasy novels to discover the artistic legacy of Tolkien’s incredible fantasy world.

Presenting a magical treasure trove of over 200 rare objects and artworks, The Magic of Middle-earth exhibition showcases a rare first edition copy of ‘The Hobbit’ from 1937, dramatic models and dioramas including The Battle of Helms Deep, concept artwork, as well as theatre, music and movie-inspired memorabilia and prop replicas.

The FREE exhibition, with donations welcomed, also includes stunning paintings illustrating Tolkien’s deep passion for the natural world, Middle-earth inspired video games and LEGO sets, and a soundscape including music by Howard Shore, who composed, orchestrated, conducted, and produced the music of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ films.

Tolkien was an English writer and a professional colleague and friend of Barnsley-born educationalist and Cooper Gallery benefactor Sir Michael Sadler in the 1920’s. During that time, as Vice-Chancellor at The University of Leeds, Sadler created the position of Professor of English Language especially for Tolkien. They would work together in Oxford over the next two decades, during which period Tolkien would write his famed novels.

The Magic of Middle-earth also involves hands-on activities including Dungeons and Dragons-esque gaming sessions, a clay-making ‘Dragon Eyes’ session on November 3, activities during Barnsley’s Bright Night’s festivities and much more.

Matt Fox, Curator of The Magic of Middle-earth exhibition, said: “As a collector of rare objects and curious finds, I often have quite a solitary role. While I love what I do, being able to share my collections with likeminded individuals makes it all worth it.

“Bringing these specific pieces to Experience Barnsley Museum, to share with fans of ‘The Lord of The Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ of all ages, is something that means a lot to me.

“Being able to see the exhibition brought together with a number of family-friendly, fun activities over the next few months is going to be incredible.”

Cllr Robin Franklin, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “At Experience Barnsley Museum, we are so excited to welcome Matt Fox’s incredible Middle-earth exhibition. As a museum made for the people by the people, it is exhibitions like this one that bring people together the most – ones in which they can reminisce, reconnect, and even learn or see something new around something they love.

“’The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ stories are loved by so many different people, either through the books, the films, or the world in general, and we know that this exhibition is one that many people in Barnsley and further afield will truly uniquely relate to.”

Journey To Middle Earth Exhibition