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Hell, Heaven and Hope: A Journey through life and the afterlife with Dante

2 December 2017 - 18 March 2018

Dennyson Stoddart Gallery, Palace Green Library

Look around you and the influence of medieval poet Dante Alighieri is everywhere. For centuries his work has inspired artists and writers from Botticelli to Dan Brown.  

This temporary exhibition followed the story of Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Joining his imagined journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, visitors met a cast of familiar and unfamiliar characters. Reflecting the entire human experience; Dante’s work considers the power of resilience through difficult times and ultimately offers a message of hope. 

Today, Dante’s influence can be found in contemporary art, literature, music, film and popular culture. His striking depictions of the consequences of sin in Inferno, the struggles of Purgatory and ultimately the splendours of Heaven reflect our own stories; the choices we make, the consequences of our decisions, our behaviour and our resilience. Look closely enough and you may even find yourself. 

The exhibition was brought to life through Durham University’s collections, displayed alongside books and manuscripts from the internationally renowned collections of Mr Livio Ambrogio, shown in Durham for the first time. 

Illustration from The Divine Comedy.

Illustration from The Divine Comedy.