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At the National Media Museum

Joseph JB Priestley, Action Hero?
Joseph JB Priestley, Blue Sky Thinker?
A portrait with dephlogisticated air?

This sculpture of Joseph JB Priestley is in front of the National Media Museum in Bradford.

The museum wasn't entirely my cup of tea, but it did have its moments. I liked seeing the branch of BBC Radio Leeds hard at work, broadcasting radio, albeit surrounded by display stuff on television.

And it was amazing to see the workings of an IMAX projection booth. (With warnings not to take flash photography as the audience would be able to see it.) It was a glorious encounter with the technological sublime, reels like millstones on a floor-to-ceiling spindle, the 70 mm film passing to and from the pair of hulking projectors. I loved it.

As I now know, this was the UK's first IMAX theater and, for about 12 years, was its only one. No wonder several people enthused about it as something to do in Bradford! As it happens, I lived in Toronto for a while, home of the IMAX company, which, as a result, has a whole slew of them. They get used for non-IMAX projections too, when a multiplex has enough demand for a new film. This is how I came to see so much of Keanu Reeves' pores in one of the Matrix sequels.

But I had never seen a projection room for them before.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 15th, 2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
"This time you win, Lavoisier, but I will have my revenge! Mwah ha ha!"
Sep. 15th, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)
Is that really Joseph Priestley? Priestley, the scientist (see Steepholm's response) was a Birmingham lad, and there is a statue of him there. John Priestley (better known as J.B. Priestley), playwright etc, was born in Bradford, and would be the most natural person to put outside a media museum in Bradford...
Sep. 15th, 2011 02:45 pm (UTC)
Ooh, interesting thought.

Joseph Priestley had a large plaque in the cathedral in gratitude for his help in building the Leeds-Liverpool canal, which is why I didn't think much about which Priestley this was. But you are absolutely right as to which one this sculpture is of.
Sep. 15th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
Also i was, at the time, en route to a series of history of science events, so was predisposed to think of history of science figures.
Sep. 15th, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
Further reading tells me that the Joseph Priestley of the Leeds-Liverpool canal association was a different J Priestley again. But possibly a relative? The more famous of the two was born quite close to Bradford.
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
In Batley, I think. There's a statue in Leeds City Square of Priestley with a magnifying glass which (owing to the non-see through nature of bronze) I keep seeing as either a hand mirror or a table-tennis bat.
Sep. 16th, 2011 07:20 am (UTC)
So, I was right it being J.B.

But totally wrong about the scientist Joseph Priestley being a Birmingham lad. I have discovered (thank you WIkipedia!) that he was born in Yorkshire, and travelled around, Daventry, Warrington, Leeds, and didn't get to Birmingham until 1780, where he lived until he was driven out by the mob in 1791. I suppose it is because I think of him as so central to the Lunar Society of Birmingham--which he was, sort of, but for a long time as a corresponding member. I must read Jenny Uglow's book on the Lunar Society again!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )