Join us for RAS Open Evening on Tuesday 23 May

The RAS is delighted to be hosting a collections-based Open Evening on Tuesday 23 May, from 6.30pm. The evening will feature a series of short talks about items from the collection, and will also provide a great opportunity to get “up close and personal” with rarely seen books, manuscripts, archives, art, and photographs.

Speakers include conservators Jasdip Singh Dhillon and Bethia Grice, who conserved items from our collections in 2016 as part of their Master’s degrees in conservation. Bethia restored several paintings from our James Tod Collection of Indian art, while Jasdip conserved a Persian manuscript, RAS Persian 19/51: Raudat al-Ahbab fi Siyar al-Nabi wa-‘l-Al wa’l-Ashab.  Also speaking at the event are RAS President Dr Gordon Johnson and RAS Treasurer Lionel Knight. Gordon will talk about the painting Madhu Rao Narayan, the Maratha Peshwa with Nana Fadnavis and attendants, by James Wales (1792), which has just returned from loan as part of the Artist and Empire exhibition, and which is now installed in the Library Reading Room; while Lionel will talk about a rare volume of engravings, Picturesque Scenery in the Kingdom of Mysore (1805).

RAS Persian 19/51 after conservation

Since the Society’s foundation in 1823, its collections have served as an important source of information documenting the histories and cultures of Asia. Today, the collections also serve as a window into understanding how people in the past – in Asia, Great Britain, and Europe – understood and interpreted Asian peoples and cultures, and viewed their relations with the wider world. The Society’s collections are used in a variety of ways to promote traditional research and learning, and we are also always looking for new ways to help people access the collections for inspiration and enjoyment. (For an example, see Archivist Nancy Charley’s blog posts about how the collections have been used in Creative Writing workshops.) One of the main goals of the Open Evening is therefore to show how items from the collection are having on impact on current research, and contributing to the way that people think about Asian studies.

Madhu Rao Narayan, the Maratha Peshwa with Nana Fadnavis and attendants (RAS 01.014)

We also hope to shed light on the work that goes on “behind the scenes” to make our collections accessible, and to ensure they are here for future generations to learn from and enjoy. We have a small team of staff, and are reliant on a much larger team of dedicated and skilled volunteers who help us catalogue and conserve our collections. One of the purposes of the Open Evening is to highlight the work of our volunteers, showcasing their contribution to the Society’s members as well as to wider interested audiences. We hope that this Open Evening will prove to be the first of many such events over the coming years, as we look towards celebrating the Society’s 200th birthday in 2023.

We hope you will join us for what promises to be a very special occasion. The evening is free and open to all, but if you would like to come please RSVP to Amy Riach at ar@royalasiaticsociety.org.