Babel: Adventures in Translation

15 February 2019 2 June 2019


ST Lee Gallery, Weston Library (Map)


Weston Library Information desk | 01865 277094


Babel: Adventures in Translation takes visitors beyond the ancient myth of the Tower of Babel and society's quest for a universal language to explore the ubiquity and power of translation in the movement of ideas, stories and cultural practices around the world.

Through a stunning selection of objects ranging from a second century papyrus book and illuminated manuscripts to animal stories, religious books and a bilingual road sign, Babel explodes the notion that translation is merely about word-for-word rendering into another language, or that it is obsolete in the era of global English and Google Translate. Treasures from the Bodleian Libraries' collections, both ancient and modern, illustrate how stories have travelled across time, territory, language and medium.

Highlights on show include a 4000-year-old bowl inscribed with a language that still resists deciphering, an unpublished Tolkien notebook revealing how he experimented with Esperanto before creating his fictional Elvish languages, and an experimental 1950s computer programme designed to generate love letters. Exploring themes of multiculturalism and identity, the exhibition considers issues that are more relevant than ever as Britain approaches Brexit. It also tackles the tricky question of how to translate for the distant future. 

Opening times:
Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm
Sunday 11am-5pm

Download the teachers guide to Babel for information to help group leaders plan an enjoyable visit.


Free admission

This event is listed under: Exhibitions; Free events
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