Special Collections

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Grand Tourists and Others: Travelling Abroad Before the 20th Century

This exhibition takes the visitor on a journey through the history of travel since the 16th century drawing on The University of Nottingham’s rich archives. Beginning with the elite ‘Grand Tour’ of the 17th and 18th centuries and ending with the more commercial tourism of the mid-19th century, the exhibition explores the travels of local families and others throughout Europe and beyond. People travelled for education and pleasure, to buy and sell things, to escape pressures at home and much more besides. The trips of men and women, girls and boys, servants and even pets are recorded. Many places across Europe, and some beyond, feature among the exhibits, with a special focus on Italy which became and remained the country most people were keen to see.

Exhibits include passports, diaries and journals, sketches, bills, prints, photographs and guide books, objects which are still familiar now when we travel abroad. Follow travellers as they walked around Rome, climbed Vesuvius, boated around Venice and looked at art in Florence. Watch them shop for the latest fashions in Paris and bargain in Naples. Travel with them as they try foreign food, attempt to speak the local language and encounter both danger and excitement; just as we do today.

The exhibition has been jointly curated by Dr Ross Balzaretti (School of Humanities) and Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham.

Image: MS 317. Photograph from an album associated with Prince Leopold c.1884.