An exciting new interactive exhibition is set to open at The National Coal Mining Museum for England, exploring the influence of the medieval mining manual De Re Metallica

The National Coal Mining Museum for England’s next exhibition The Craft of the Miner, Agricola’s Masterpiece opens on 13 October 2014.

This exhibitionfeatures the first edition copy of the ancient mining manual De Re Metallica by Georgius Agricola, and concentrates on its author and the book itself, exploring why it was written and how it became such an important manual in mining history. Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library will open the exhibition on Monday 13 October.

Written over 450 years ago, De Re Metallica, was first published in 1556 in Basel, Switzerland and remained one of the most influential texts on mining for almost 200 years. The book, which is written for mining metal and minerals, is still relevant to the mining of coal and resonates as a ‘masterpiece’ in the industry.

The exhibition delves into mining manuals, self-help and training in mining methods up to the nineteenth century. Many items from the Museum’s collection, including texts from the library and mining tools, alongside fun child-friendly activities such as jigsaws, drawing and colouring decorated (illuminated) letters,  and playing a magnetic Latin word game all complement the woodcut images illustrating mining life in medieval Germany.

The book was bought for the Museum, with assistance of the Art Fund in 2010, and is permanently housed in the Museum Library. For the exhibition De Re Metallica will be joined by additional books on loan from the Brotherton Library, University of Leeds and Ripon Cathedral to complement and support the manual.

The Museum’s free family learning activities for October half-term and Family Arts Festival 2014/Big Draw are inspired by the wonderful woodcut illustrations featured in De Re Metallica. Families are invited to find out how books were illustrated in the past, and then create their own relief print inspired by the objects from the Museum collection. For Halloween, families can work together to craft a spooky spell or poem, taking inspiration from a 'cauldron' of mining words and handling objects.

Printmaker, Dave Wilders will also be running a series of printmaking workshops for secondary schools in October and November.

The exhibition will be on display in the Museum’s special exhibition space. The Museum Library holds De Re Metallica in its permanent collection and also valuable information on coal mining in England, covering the historical, political, economic and geographical aspects of the industry.

The exhibition is open during Museum opening hours and is free entry.

For press information, images and interview requests please contact Laura Barr at Bonner & Hindley: laura@bonnerandhindley.co.uk; 0113 243 4713

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