Personal Belongings: On Display

How would you feel about having your intimate belongings on display to the public?

Personal Belongings is an exhibition which explores this question and reflects on how much of ourselves we share with others.

A collaboration between MA students at the University of Leeds and the York Museums Trust Collection, this online exhibition traverses the blurry lines between private items and the public desire to look at historical artefacts.

This exhibition weaves its way between different periods in history but keeps its focus on objects connected to Yorkshire. Items include the decadent jewellery of a North African woman living in Roman York to a homemade Victorian bedcover created from beloved family fabrics. They show beautiful insights into people’s lives and their stories. But they did not consent to having their personal belongings on display in a museum.

Historically, it was easy to maintain a private space where only chosen guests could enter. The internet means that our lives are increasingly lived in the public sphere. We encourage you to think about special personal objects in your own life. How would you feel if they were suddenly on display to the world?

Visit the online exhibition

Personal Belongings: On Display is part of a wider series of exhibitions and projects undertaken by MA students from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies as part of an Interpretations course module.

Personal Belongings on Instagram.


Sampler, Elizabeth Groves, 1822. Copyright York Museums Trust Collection.