Museums, Libraries and Archives Council Designation Scheme

Through the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) Designation Scheme, the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts won recognition as being of outstanding national and international importance.

The Designation Scheme (now administered by Arts Council, England) aims to identify and celebrate the pre-eminent collections of national and international importance held in England's non-national museums, libraries and archives. 

It recognises that organisations with nationally important collections care for a significant part of England's cultural heritage. Only some 40 manuscript collections, held in libraries and archives across England, have been awarded Designation status. 

'Illuminating Faith' exhibition

In 2005, an ambitious exhibition called Illuminating Faith was staged at Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery. Illuminating Faith was a partnership between the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Altajir Trust, and others. The aims of the project were to highlight the collections and improve public access to them, to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Middle East and to demonstrate its relevance to communities living in Birmingham today. 

The exhibition, at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, brought together items from both organisations' Middle Eastern collections. Displays included illustrated manuscripts, textiles and dress, ceramics and metalwork, originating from Iran, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula, and spanning the 9th to the 19th centuries. 

'Qalam: the art of beautiful writing' exhibition

In 2013-14, the Cadbury Research Library lent 15 Arabic and Persian manuscripts from The Mingana Collection to an exhibition about Islamic calligraphy at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (part of Birmingham Museums Trust).  The hugely successful exhibition attracted over 33,000 visitors in a 12 week period.