Exploring the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum
Across 2019 the research team spent a great deal of time at the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum (BDCM), just a few doors along from our base in the Queens Building at the University of Exeter.
The BDCM is a unique centre for the history of the moving image. It holds thousands of items from the pre-history of cinema through the to present day. The centre has two galleries, an upper and a lower, which each give a sense of the diversity of the collections overall. Within these display cases visitors can find all manner of toys, magazines, marketing materials and collectibles, but also original artefacts related to both the production of cinema (the centre holds an original Lumière cinematograph, for example) and the exhibtion of cinema (the upper gallery displays everything from lobby cards to usherette uniforms and ticket stubs from the 1920s).
Working within the centre was a very different experience to working at RAMM or Topsham Museum because the museum holds, primarily, ephemera and mass-produced items connected to Vivien Leigh rather than artefacts from her private life. This means that the collections give a unique insight into how Vivien Leigh as a star image was consumed during and beyond her lifetime by historical audiences and how she continues to be 'produced' within the materials of popular film culture today.
This exhibit offers a snapshot of some of the more unusual items we found in the Museum whilst searching for items connected to Vivien Leigh. Click on each of the images to learn more about them, and read our interpretation of their value to us as film historians investigating Vivien Leigh's star image.
Many more materials from the BDCM can be viewed in our Bill Douglas Cinema Museum collection, including magazines, postcards, toys, cigarette cards and books.