Great Expectations 

A film about the Wisbech & Fenland Museum


Music: Celer & Machinefabriek’s Brussels concert, courtesy of Will Long and Rutger Zuydervelt | Cathnor from the album Duos for Doris by Keith Rowe & John Tilbury, courtesy of Erstwhile Records | and music from the album Weerzien by Anne Chris Bakker, courtesy of Anne Chris Bakker



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Photographic installation >>>

A talk on the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson >>>

Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Artist Talk >>>


The film Great Expectations by the German artist and filmmaker Sabine Bürger is a portrait of the Wisbech & Fenland Museum/UK. It revolves around two pivotal figures: Charles Dickens, whose manuscript for Great Expectations the museum owns, and Thomas Clarkson, a key figure in abolishing the slave trade in the United Kingdom, who was born in Wisbech. The film intersperses an interview with the museum’s curator David Wright with striking footage of the museum’s exhibits. Viewers gain an insight into less familiar parts of the building such as the extensive library and the normally off-limits basement storage area with its unseen treasures. The highlight of the film is perhaps the sequence of atmospheric close-ups of Dickens’ manuscript, accompanied by readings of passages from the novel.

In addition to the film, the project comprises a photographic installation, juxtaposing reproductions of Wisbech and its surroundings from wax negatives from around 1850, taken by Samuel Smith, a pioneering photographer and founding member of the museum, with colour close-ups of the museum’s exhibits in situ by Sabine Bürger, as well as a lecture on Charles Dickens and Victorian Visual Culture by Prof. Dr. Patricia Plummer, Chair of Postcolonial Studies, Duisburg-Essen University.  



Samuel S Smith, Wisbech: Nene Quay c. 1854 Reproduction: 34.68 x 52.02 cm









Display Wisbech & Fenland Museum (#61)  Reproduction: 34.68 x 52.02 cm










A project in cooperation with the Wisbech & Fenland Museum/UK


Premiered in November 2013 at The Luxe Cinema, Wisbech / UK 

Film screening and display in the Art Library, in July 2014, at Duisburg Essen University. Organised by Prof. Dr. Patricia Plummer, Chair of Postcolonial Studies, to accompany the lecture The Victorian Age

Film and photo installation Great Expectation 22 – 26 July 2014 in Arles/Southern France At a pop-up space during the 2014 edition of the Rencontres d‘Arles International Photo Festival, organised by the club des jumelages de la ville d‘Arles/The Wisbech-Arles Twinning Club. 

Exhibition co-curated by Sabine Bürger and David Wright, Curator of the Wisbech Museum

Making a Difference: Thomas Clarkson – Abolitionist | A talk by Sabine Bürger, organised by Prof. Dr. Patricia Plummer, Chair of Postcolonial Studies, Duisburg-Essen University | Public talk: Thursday, 7 January 2016, 2 pm at Duisburg-Essen University (Main Library)

Behind the Scenes at the Museum: The Wisbech & Fenland Museum | Friday, 18 November 2016 | A talk by Sabine Bürger, organised by Prof. Dr. Patricia Plummer, Chair of Postcolonial Studies, Duisburg-Essen University. The Artist Talk is part of the seminar "Colonialism's Heritage in Museums and Archives," which has been awarded funding within UDE's 2016 Teaching Diversity scheme.




© Sabine Bürger 2015