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Past Exhibitions

London's Theatre of the East
November 2019 - February 2020
Dr Johnson's House and The Arab British Centre
 collaborated on a joint project, London’s Theatre of the East. It invited artists, researchers and the public to (re)examine the historical connections of the Middle East and North Africa and London, via the lens of Dr Johnson’s 1749 play, Irene, set during the fall of Constantinople (today's Istanbul) in 1453.

Dr Samuel Johnson’s Greatcoat - Louise Whittles
October 2018 - May 2019
London based artist Louise Whittles, constructed Samuel Johnson's great coat. Embedding it with wire net, it became frozen in time as if being blown by the strong Hebridean winds.

Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1779-81)
April - July 2019
A special exhibition of prints, books, and related publications to mark the 240th anniversary of Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1779-81), a collection of biographies of 52 writers.

Curious Travellers: Dr Johnson and Thomas Pennant on Tour
5 October 2018 - January 2019
This exhibition explored the genre of travel-writing as it emerges in the 18th century through the Welsh and  Scottish tours of Thomas Pennant and Samuel Johnson. Through their writings, both men sparked a curiosity in their readers, inspiring many of them to undertake similar journeys.

London: A Poem
5 October 2017- 5 February 2018

An exhibition to mark the 280th anniversary of London: A Poem’s publication. This display explored Samuel Johnson’s first independently published work. This included a rare first edition of the poem, which is an imitation of the third Satire of the Roman poet Juvenal, alongside a variety of images depicting London in the 1730s.

Johnson and Garrick: A Friendship in constant repair
5 October 2017- 5 February 2018

An exhibition organised in collaboration with the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, exploring the life of David Garrick. Garrick, a pupil of Johnson at Edial, became the most recognised celebrity of the 18th-century London stage.

Collecting Johnson
1 July - 16 October 2017

An exhibition of Johnsoniana from private collections around the world. This display featured rare pamphlets, first editions and portrait of Johnson that are not usually on display to the public.

Zanzibar's Story: Remembering the Past, Securing the Future
Presented by World Monuments Fund Britain
13 January - 29 March 2016

This touring exhibition by WMFB told the story of the last permanent slave market in East Africa, and its legacy, the construction of Christ Church Cathedral on the site. Accompanied by an exhibit, 'Johnson, Barber and Thoughts on Liberty', which explored Johnson's progressive views on the subject of slavery.

Shakespeare in the 18th century: Johnson, Garrick and friends
10 August to 28 November 2015

A special display of artwork, books and ephemera exploring the treatment of Shakespeare during the 18th century on both the page and the stage. This exhibition marked the 250th anniversary of Johnson's critical edition of Shakespeare's plays (1765).


(Now that would be) Telling
01 October to 01 November 2011

Writer Hallie Rubenhold and artist Hayley Lock merged fact and fiction as they presented new work inspired by the story of Johnson’s manservant, the former slave, Francis Barber.

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