ARTIST INFORMATION: The entrance (a) has a decorative surround (b) that incorporates textual information. This provides a brief background to the Whitaker building and park, and refers to the textile industry during the 19th century when Rossendale was known as ‘The Golden Valley’ because of its wealth. It mentions how textiles played a key role in the transatlantic slave trade, and this was the main reason for its great wealth. It also reminds us that the working people of the Valley did not share in this prosperity, and often suffered appalling working conditions.
During the colonial period, with the British Empire at its peak, the wealthy and powerful felt they were masters of the world, and that almost everything on earth was theirs for the taking. With the growth of science and world-wide trade, explorers would go out to gather plants, animals, and specimens of all kinds, as well as artwork and artefacts from different cultures. This was also known as ‘The Museum Period’, when items were gathered voraciously, and many collectors wanted to show off their discoveries to others. One result of this was the idea of a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. These ‘wonder rooms’ were small collections of extraordinary objects designed to impress the visitor, and they usually had more to do with showmanship than with serious study or curation.
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