3 February 2015
The Bodleian Libraries have presented the Bodley Medal to architect Jim Eyre OBE, the architectural mastermind behind the Bodleian Libraries' newly refurbished Weston Library.
The award, the Bodleian's highest honour, was presented by Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian at a gathering at the Weston Library last evening.
Jim Eyre is the co-founder of Wilkinson Eyre, one of the UK's leading architectural practices. Established in 2006, the company has managed a diverse range of high profile cultural, educational and infrastructure projects. Jim has previously led on projects at the Museum of London, the Science Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Jim provided the architectural vision for the transformative renovation of the New Bodleian Library, now the Weston Library, leading on the modernization of this Grade II-listed 1930s Gilbert Scott Building. Jim's thorough understanding of cultural spaces and his passion for libraries was a driving force behind the success of this three-year project to breathe new life into the 1930s structure and to open up the building and the collections to the scholarly community in Oxford, the international researchers who use the building. For the first time the general public will be able to enter the Weston Library and enjoy exhibitions, talks, and displays centred on the Bodleian's outstanding special collections.
Jim Eyre, said: 'I am delighted to receive this unexpected honour for our part in transforming this extraordinary building. It has been both a privilege and a challenge to be working within such an important historic context, and with such a unique collection of books and manuscripts. Our design celebrates these precious objects and I am very proud to be a part of the team that has worked to protect the future of this cultural and intellectual landmark.'
The Bodley Medal is awarded by the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the worlds in which the Bodleian is active: literature, culture, science, and communication. The last recipient of the Bodley Medal was novelist Ian McEwan who received the honour in 2014. Past winners also include novelist Hilary Mantel, writer and actor Alan Bennett, film director Lord Richard Attenborough, author PD James and inventor of the world wide web Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
Images credit: John Cairns
About the Bodley Medal
The Bodley Medal was first engraved in 1646 to honour Sir Thomas Bodley, the founder of the Bodleian Library. It was designed by the Frenchman, Claude Warin, one of the leading medal-makers of the 17th century. Library accounts for 1646 contain an entry – 'Item, to ye painter that drew Sir Thomas Bodley's picture, and to Mr Warren that made his medale, to each of them 2s'. The original Medal is gilt, probably on bronze. When the roof of Duke Humfrey's Library was being replaced during the major renovations in the Library at the millennium, the idea was conceived of using the metal from the Library's roof to create a limited number of replicas of the original Medal.
The new Medal was struck in 2001 at the Royal Mint, to celebrate the restoration of Duke Humfrey's Library, the first purpose-built library in the University founded in 1438 and endowed by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (fourth son of Henry IV). The medal is made from copper salvaged from the old roof of the building.
The obverse of the medal shows the right profile of Thomas Bodley and bears the inscription on the 'TH•BODLY•EQ•AVR•PVBL•BIBLIOTH•OXON•FVNDATOR', which translates 'Sir Thomas Bodley, Founder of the Public Library in Oxford'. The reverse reads 'A•P•LITERARIAE•AETERNITAS', which translates 'The Eternity of the Republic of Letters'. It shows a female figure, probably representing the Republic of Letters, bearing a head in each hand. The medal is signed 'Warin' on the obverse.