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Donald Macbeth, The Manuscripts Saloon, a photograph
The British Museum, London, England, AD 1922
Home to some of the most important documents in English literature
This room is on the ground floor of the East Wing of the Museum, at the southern end of the King's Library. For more than one hundred and fifty years rare manuscripts were stored in the glass-fronted book presses around the walls. Originally, this was not a public area. However, from 1857 visitors were able to see displays of important manuscripts in specially designed cases.
By 1922, when this photograph was taken, the exhibition of manuscripts had filled the whole of the Manuscript Saloon and the adjacent South Room. On display were early Bible manuscripts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Magna Carta, Royal autographs and literary manuscripts, including works by William Shakespeare, John Milton, Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens.
In 1998 the Manuscript collections moved to the new British Library building at St Pancras enabling this fine room to be used by The British Museum.