Bill Douglas Cinema Museum

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by Conrad

Location: Bill Douglas Cinema Museum

10am - 5pm

Exeter

No film fan would want to pass up the opportunity to visit the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, where more than a thousand fascinating artefacts cover the whole history of cinema and the days of pre-cinema, going as far back as the 17th century. 

The museum is part of the University of Exeter and offers free admission to visitors all year round. In all, the university’s collection boasts an incredible 75,000 items - making it Britain’s biggest single collection of film and film-related items and memorabilia by a considerable margin. 

It was put together by the British filmmaker Bill Douglas and a colleague Peter Jewell, who passed it all on to the university on Douglas’ death in 1991. 

It offers an encyclopaedic history of the cinema and the moving image through items like the “What the butler saw” peep shows that were very popular on Victorian seaside piers. There’s also a wide range of epidiascopes which were used to create simple animation long before the invention of the camera. 

A more modern kind of animation is explored in an extensive collection of Disney-related memorabilia in the Robin Allan Collection. This not only includes a huge number of the original drawings dating back to the 1930s, but also filmmakers’ notes and interviews with animators and other artists who worked on the films. 

Another giant of the cinema is celebrated in the Charlie Chaplin collection of over 1000 items including postcards and toys which date back to the early 20th century - surely some of the world’s oldest cinema merchandise. 

Also on display is a wealth of printed publicity material which includes programmes from around the world, press books explaining how individual films were to be marketed, and cards that appeared in cinema lobbies publicising forthcoming films.

 With detailed exhibitions, interactive displays and a wealth of information, cinema buffs won’t want to miss out on this educational experience.

For full details visithttp://www.bdcmuseum.org.uk/

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Article by Conrad

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