Talks & Webinars

Join us for a selection of talks and webinars, highlighting aspects of the Chester Beatty collections as well as activities and research taking place around the museum.

Many of these will appear first as live events, so make sure to keep an eye on our What’s On page.

Image of a Public Lecture at the Chester Beatty

Queering the Chester Beatty

The stories that museum collections can tell are limited only by the questions we ask. It is time to ask new questions, make fresh connections, and see collections through a different lens.

In this talk Prof. Richard Sandell (University of Leicester) and Kris Reid (Ulster University) examine the importance of exploring LGBTQIA+ narratives within museums for all our audiences, while also introducing diversities of desire and identity from across the collections of the Chester Beatty.

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Buying In: Chester Beatty and Japanese Prints

Almost all the Japanese prints and printed books in the collection of the Chester Beatty were collected in just ten years, from 1954 to 1963.

Stepping outside the frame of the exhibition, this final talk in our series of lectures introducing Edo in Colour, will look at how, when and why this incredible collection of Japanese prints was brought together, and the legacy Beatty wanted to create for Ireland. 

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Peace and Prosperity: Picturing the Shogun’s Capital

From the glinting gold that lined its merchants’ coffers, to the peerless white peak of Mt Fuji, this talk takes in some of the sights that were the pride of Edo’s residents.

The image of Edo conjured in woodblock prints is one of great prosperity. But even as Edo’s publishing industry flourished, the ruling shogunate kept a wary eye on the city’s booming popular culture.

In this third talk introducing our exhibition, Edo in Colour, Curator Dr Mary Redfern explores the contrasts of joy and tension that were foundational to the expression of Edo in print.

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Dangerous Places: Theatres and Brothels of the Floating World

In this second talk accompanying Edo in Colour exhibition, Curator Dr Mary Redfern guides you into the “Bad places” or akusho of Edo’s Floating World–the licensed prostitution and theatre districts.

Focusing on printed books of the women of the Yoshiwara and the celebrities of the kabuki stage, Dr Redfern considers how these locales served as centres for Edo’s booming popular culture, and how they were framed for consumption in print.

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Selling the City: Japanese Prints, Publishers and Audiences

By 1721, the population of Edo (modern Tokyo) had swelled to more than one million, making it the largest city in the world. Print powered this flourishing metropolis. As artists, publishers and printmakers collaborated to publish single-sheet prints and printed books of the highest order, discerning audiences in turn consumed this affordable art.

Join Dr Mary Redfern for this first lecture in a series exploring Edo in Colour exhibition, as she introduces this vibrant metropolis which stood as muse, maker and market combined for vibrant woodblock prints.

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A Gap in the Clouds: Crafting a New Translation of Japan’s Most Important Poetry Collection

The Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (100 Poems by 100 Poets) is one of the most important poetry collections in Japan. It was compiled around 1235 by Fujiwara no Teika, but its poems date from the 800s onwards, and its poets include emperors and empresses, courtiers and high priests, ladies-in-waiting, and soldier-calligraphers.

However, as James Hadley and Nell Regan note in their introduction to A Gap in the Clouds, A New Translation of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (Dedalus Press), ‘These beautiful poems have endured because their themes are universal and readily understood by contemporary readers’.

Join them as they introduce their book and read a selection of these tiny, exquisite poems.

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Chester Beatty and Collecting Medieval Manuscripts During the First World War

The start of the First World War brought a halt to auctions, and spending money on luxury items was regarded as inappropriate. Yet Chester Beatty may have bought his first medieval manuscripts in 1914.

This talk by Dr Laura Cleaver, Senior Lecturer in Manuscript Studies, University of London, tells the story of Chester Beatty’s collecting during the Great War and explores how a newcomer to manuscript collecting responded to the disrupted market in a global conflict.

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Planes, trains and Instagram: 100 Years of Carpet Dealing

In this illustrated lecture, Dr Maktabi – art historian and carpet expert – describes the journey of the family firm, established in Isfahan in 1911, and relocated to Beirut in 1920.

He details how this vibrant business sources, restores, and manages historic carpets from Iran and across the Middle East, and how the Beirut port explosions impacted the family in August 2020.

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John Thomson: Life and Legacy

Betty Yao, co-curator of the exhibition Siam through the Lens of John Thomson, looks at the people and places Thomson photographed after leaving Siam in 1866. He spent 5 years in China and photographed many regions from North to South. Upon his return to the United Kingdom, he had an illustrious career, not only as a renowned photographer and traveller, but also as a writer and teacher.

Watch Betty Yao as she discusses Thompson’s career, legacy and the enduring appeal of his photographs in this digital age.

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Sewing the Sacred: The Living Tradition of the Buddha’s Robe

Zen Buddhist priest, Rev. Myozan Kodo Kilroy discusses the culture and practice of sewing the Okesa, or Buddha’s robe.

The Buddha’s robe represents a rich and enduring tradition in Buddhism; a tradition that holds an important place in world culture and religious practice. This is a fascinating story that spans the centuries, and that has found a living expression right here in contemporary Ireland.

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Conservation and Craft; Learning through Book Structures

Sophie Coulthard, Heritage Council Intern in Conservation at the Chester Beatty, shares her experiences in treating an 18th century Indian manuscript, CBL In 12.

Hear about some of the ethical considerations that go into treating original manuscripts, and what can be learned from close examination of its materials and structure.

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John Thomson the Intrepid Traveller: Siam and Beyond

Betty Yao, co-curator of the exhibition Siam through the lens of John Thomson, 1865–66,  follows the trail of young John Thomson from his early years in Edinburgh to his first major journey to photograph the fascinating kingdom of 19th century Siam.

Betty Yao looks at the people and places Thomson photographed and describes the twists and turns behind the survival of this valuable collection through 150 years.

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Looking at Siam: Situating John Thomson’s work then and now

Join Jon Riordan, Photographer at the Chester Beatty, for this recording of his webinar.

Looking at Siam explores how the development of photography as technology and an art form allowed John Thomson to create the images displayed in the exhibition Siam: Through the lens of John Thomson, 1865–66, held at the Chester Beatty 21 Feb 2020 – 3 Jan 2021.

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Insights Hidden in Plain Sight

Dr Garrick Allen of Dublin City University is working with one of the illuminated Greek Gospel manuscripts in the Chester Beatty collection (CBL W 139).

This deluxe codex includes almost every possible paratext available to a twelfth-century Gospel book, illuminations, commentaries, prefaces, concordances, lists and notations.

Allen is examining how each of these contribute to our understanding of the main text and the book as a whole.

This project is generously funded by the Templeton Religion Trust.

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Open today 9:45am - 5:30pm

Tuesday to Friday 9:45am - 5:30pm
Wednesday 9:45am - 8:00pm
Saturday 9:45am - 5:30pm
Sunday 12:00pm - 5:30pm

Closed Mondays: Nov - Feb
Closed 1 Jan; Good Friday; 24-26 Dec

Admission is Free
No booking required
Suggested donation €5


Chester Beatty
Dublin Castle
Dublin 2
D02 AD92