Imagine a wall plastered with the posters of all the parties to the Northern Ireland conflict during the three decades of "The Troubles." It is, of course, inconceivable in that divided world, except in Belfast's historic Linen Hall Library, where the "Troubled Images" exhibition broke new ground when it was first shown in October 2001.
Now the exhibit is opening at the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion at the Hoover Institution on the Stanford University campus, its only venue on the West Coast. In collaboration with the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, the Hoover Institution will present Troubled Images: Posters and Images of the Northern Ireland Conflict, beginning on March 16, 2004.
The 70-poster exhibit reflects the emotions and hopes of a deeply divided society in conflict. Explaining the purpose of the exhibition, Linen Hall librarian John Gray states "our first intention was to open doors to understanding and in an accessible way for our own community. In doing so we are also suggesting a way of acting that may have a wider international resonance. After more than thirty years of conflict we need to lift the blanket of silence."
The Linen Hall Library is the unique repository for the Northern Ireland Political Collection, which contains over a quarter of a million items—books, documents, cards, pamphlets, photographs, and other printed materials—relating to the thirty-year conflict and the ongoing peace process. The 70 posters on view are part of the collection of more than 3,000 acquired by the library from 1969 to the present. They represent a wide range of opinions on major events and individuals involved in the arduous years of struggle and the burgeoning peace process.
The Troubled Images project, which includes the exhibition, catalog, and CD-ROM, won the prestigious Christopher Ewart Biggs Literary Prize for 2003. The prize is awarded every two years to individuals and/or organizations that promote peace and reconciliation in Ireland, a greater understanding between the peoples of Britain and Ireland, or closer cooperation between partners of the European Community.
The Hoover Institution Archives, which has collected political posters since 1919, encourages research on the iconography of political struggles. The Linen Hall Library sent its curator Yvonne Murphy to the Hoover Archives twice over the past ten years to consult with Hoover staff about the preservation and use of posters as an educational tool.
The Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion at the Hoover Institution on the Stanford University campus is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. For additional information, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives, 650/723-3563, or www.hoover.org/hila. Group tours are available.
The Hoover Institution, founded at Stanford University in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the 31st president of the United States, is an interdisciplinary research center for advanced study on domestic public policy and international affairs, with internationally renowned archives.