Fundraiser for a ‘magic’ lantern could light up new-look centre
A Crowdfunding page has been set up to buy a rare ‘magic lantern’ slide showing David Livingstone preaching the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac in Africa.
The fundraiser, which has already brought in £315 of its £1300 target, is the brainchild of the David Livingstone Trust, which wants to add the artefact to its collection of 3000 objects connected to the legendary Scottish explorer and missionary.
And the David Livingstone Trust hopes the slide – which is currently in private ownership – will go on display in its new museum, which is currently under construction as part of the much-anticipated Birthplace Project in Blantyre, Lanarkshire.
Natalie Milor, curator at the David Livingstone Trust, said: “The lantern slide will provide much needed visual weight to the new museum’s narrative, where both the controversial and celebrated activities of missionary work will be explored.
“Displayed alongside Livingstone’s magic lantern, a 21st century audience will see how 19th century cutting-edge technology was used by missionaries – with varying degrees of success – to spread Christianity.”
The David Livingstone Trust’s collection contains a lantern used by David Livingstone in Southern Africa, a gift from Mungo Murray, who accompanied him on the early journey to Lake Ngami.
Magic lanterns were the Victorian equivalent of a modern slideshow presentation.
Slides would be hand-painted and lanterns could be high-tech enough to layer and move multiple slides, to give the effect of a moving image.
Missionaries would use these lanterns, along with slides depicting scenes from the Bible, to preach (see the three images at the top of the page for images contained in the lantern slide).
Natalie added: “We feel this slide would make a great addition to the new museum and our team are very excited about it.”
The David Livingstone Centre and its 11-hectare grounds are in the process of being transformed into a world-class visitor attraction as part of the £6.1 million Birthplace Project.
The Station Road site in Blantyre includes the iconic Shuttle Row millworkers’ tenement where David Livingstone was born and raised.
The project – which is expected to be complete by 2020 – will include the renewal of the historic buildings, a newly-interpreted exhibition which will showcase artefacts from the Trust’s collection of 3000 objects and an upgrade of visitor facilities such as the café and shop.
The Birthplace Project is jointly funded by The National Lottery through The Heritage Lottery Fund (£4.1m), the Scottish Government (£1.3m) and Historic Environment Scotland (£575,000). The main contractor is Clark Contracts Ltd.
To donate or find out more about the Crowdfunding page, go to the website www.david-livingstone-trust.org
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