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Elizabeth Montgomery, Collections and Interpretations Officer at the Grosvenor Museum (left), and Katherine Wilson, Associate Professor of Later Medieval European History at the University of Chester.

Featuring new virtual reconstructions of landmark city buildings in the 14th Century, and bringing medieval and early modern artefacts rarely displayed to light, the final preparations are under way for the opening of the eagerly-anticipated events in Chester.

The ‘Mobility of Objects Across Boundaries (MOB) 1000-1700’ exhibitions, organised by the University of Chester and partners, will offer an immersive and new perspective on the city’s past, at the Grosvenor Museum from April 30 until July 9, 2022, and at Chester Cathedral from August 22 until September 18, 2022.

Visitors will have the chance to step back in time and experience the medieval city with stunning digital recreations on screen of the city’s Water Tower and St John the Baptist Church, accompanied by specially-built backdrops.

Historical replica objects including keys, chests, shoes, coins, devotional tokens and ceramics can be held in the palm of visitors’ hands and their stories will ‘lead’ them around the exhibitions and its rooms set up as the 14th-century sites.

The exhibition will bring to wider attention these everyday historical artefacts from the Museum collections and reveal the ways in which objects allowed people in the past to move across thresholds and boundaries, from public to private spaces, from secular to religious spaces and across global trade networks. The digital reconstructions will recreate the movement and settings of the objects for the public.

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A scene from one of the digital reconstructions.
A scene from one of the digital reconstructions.

While exploring, children can try on replica clothes, dressing up as a medieval peasant, merchant, trader or pilgrim and imagining what objects they would have worn or used in the era.

The exhibitions will also showcase examples of creative work produced by regional school students which have been inspired by Object Boxes containing medieval and early modern artefacts, and are available to loan for primary and secondary schools.

The exhibitions are part of a wider year-long MOB initiative, led by the University with the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Oxford and the Grosvenor Museum in Chester, aiming to bring medieval and early modern historical artefacts to life, to challenge perceptions of the period as static and unchanging, and elite narratives of history by focusing on everyday objects.

Katherine Wilson, Associate Professor of Later Medieval European History at the University of Chester said: “After more than a year of planning, we are thrilled to be opening the first of our Mobility of Objects exhibitions this month.

“History is not just for the few but for everyone. These exhibitions are free and for all ages to enjoy the chance to get up-close to what their predecessors wore and used in their lives, encounter times gone by with the help of the latest technologies and to see the ways in which objects shaped the medieval world.

“We want people to have more opportunities to experience and question what we know about history - and importantly, areas that have not been widely explored, going beyond the people that had power. We can’t wait to welcome visitors to join with us in shedding new light on Chester’s past.”

She added: “Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making this happen, including: Associate Professor Leah Clark from the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Oxford; Elizabeth Montgomery and everyone at the Grosvenor Museum; colleagues at Chester Cathedral; St John the Baptist’s, Chester; teachers and pupils from schools across Cheshire and North Wales; Martin Moss at Dextra Visual; the Informatics Centre at the University of Chester and academic experts from the University of Chester’s departments of History and ArchaeologyComputer Science and Music, Media and Performance as well as the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services.” 

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “This is a really exciting exhibition using the latest technology to bring history to life for visitors of all ages. 

“Our museum service has worked closely with the University adding greatly to our Object Loan boxes and helping to unravel the fascinating history of Chester. This is as close as we’ll get to our very own time machine to visit a medieval city.”

The Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, Dean of Chester, added: “We are looking forward to welcoming Mobility of Objects to Chester Cathedral this summer. It will be a unique and captivating experience for our visitors to be immersed in the medieval culture of our fantastic city. We are particularly looking forward to having objects found on our site appear as part of the exhibition - the first time they have been reunited with their historical context in many years.”

The exhibitions have been made possible by a UK Research and Innovation Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Follow on Funding Grant for Impact and Engagement.

For further information on the project and the exhibitions, please visit:

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