Over the past several months I’ve been working closely with colleagues from the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, the University of Manchester, to produce our latest temporary exhibition Breed: The British and their Dogs. This fascinating exhibition is a cultural exploration of pedigree dog breeding, a phenomenon which began in 19th century Britain, and focuses on the captivating histories of six specific breeds.
With only four weeks to go before we open on Saturday 6th October objects are beginning to arrive from a whole host of generous lenders including museums, libraries, and dog breeding clubs. The exhibition combines a wonderful array of objects including decorative art, social history and natural science. There will be over one hundred objects on display, each of which illustrate the enduring and affectionate relationship between Britons and their dogs.
The bulldog holds a particularly prominent place in British history and is one of the six focus breeds. It has been portrayed as both sinner and saint over the past several centuries and the exhibition charts this variable status. Salford Museum has very kindly loaned us a late 19th century jug which depicts the rather disturbing role of the bulldog as used in bear-bating. The use of the bulldog in this now illegal blood sport earned it a fearsome and ferocious reputation.
Over the next several weeks I’ll share more of the fantastic objects destined for display with you and reveal more about the remaining five focus breeds!