Cotton to Gold filled the opulent interiors of Two Temple Place with some of the finest treasures of an extraordinary group of Lancashire magnates. As the cotton mills boomed, bringing development and deprivation hand in hand, this group of prominent industrialists privately, and sometimes secretively, poured their wealth into some of the most astonishing collections in the country. Exceedingly rare Roman coins, priceless medieval manuscripts, Turner watercolours, Tiffany glass, Japanese prints, Byzantine icons, ivory sculptures and even preserved beetles and a Peruvian mummy.

The exhibition sought the stories behind these collectors and what motivated them to give it all away; discovering their complicated relationship with the fast-developing world in which they lived and asking visitors if times are really so different.

Cotton to Gold was presented in partnership with three publicly owned museums in the North West (Lancashire): Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, Haworth Art Gallery (Accrington) and Towneley Hall (Burnley). The exhibition was curated by Dr Cynthia Johnston from the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and Dr Jack Hartnell from the Courtauld Institute.

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