A newly opened exhibition at the British Library in London – Georgians Revealed: Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain – takes an in depth look at the lives of people living in Britain during the Georgian era (roughly the early 1700s to the mid 1800s) and examines whether the Georgians were “tasteful and polite, or riotous and pleasure-obsessed?” Much like people in contemporary British society today, the answer is an fascinating (if ambiguous) “yes.”
Rather than lay down a king-by-king history of the era or pan out across the globe for topical inspiration, the curators behind Georgians Revealed find interest in the rise of the middle classes in numbers and political power. As commercial networks across the Britain and its Empire expanded as never before so did wealth beyond the coffers of a privileged elite and into the hands of merchants and tradesmen. Equally key to the exhibition is the assertion that the foundations of modern popular culture were, in many ways, firmly established during this time.
These themes are presented via a wide assortment of artefacts and ephemera – from playing cards to mail order catalogues, even what might be an example of the first ever fashion magazine. The show is indeed a revealing one through which to stroll – not just about how folks lived in centuries past but how their values and concerns shaped how we go about our lives today.
Georgians Revealed: Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain runs until the 11th of March 2014 in the Paccar Gallery of the British Library.
The library is free to visit but tickets for the exhibition cost £9 (about $15) for adults, £7 for seniors and £5 for students with valid ID. Under 18s are admitted for free and other concessions are available.
Opening hours are Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (8 p.m on Tuesdays); Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The library is located at 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. The nearest London Underground station is at King's Cross St Pancras but Euston station is nearby as well.
Visit bl.uk for more information about the exhibition and visiting the library.
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