The University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library (CRL) has been awarded a grant of almost £95,000 towards its Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts. The Collection is already recognised as a ‘Designated Collection’ of international importance by Arts Council England.

Detail from Persian Manuscript, Mingana Collection, Cadbury Research Library

The award, from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, managed by the Museums Association, forms part of more than £500,000 worth of grants for cultural collections projects.

Titled ‘Spreading the Word’, the CRL project will last 26 months and will help raise the profile of the unique Mingana Collection, which comprises more than 3,000 Middle Eastern manuscripts in over 20 languages, dating from the sixth century to the early 20th century.

Susan Worrall, Director of Special Collections at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘We are delighted to receive this award from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund. The grant will allow us to significantly improve the understanding, appreciation and use of the Mingana Collection.’

The Mingana Collection was brought together during the 1920s by Alphonse Mingana, a Chaldean priest and manuscript scholar from Mosul who had settled in England in 1913. The Collection came to be cared for by the University of Birmingham’s Special Collections department when the Selly Oak Colleges merged with the University in 1997.

Among the highlights of the Collection are the 662 Syriac manuscripts, which rank third in the world after the British Library and the Vatican Library, and the Christian Arabic section, which has similar global status.

The ‘Spreading the Word’ project will investigate and document the untold stories behind the manuscripts; test new strategies to engage a larger, more diverse audience with this significant collection; and offer paid, work-based training for students interested in a career in the heritage sector.

Sally Colvin, the Museum Association’s collections co-ordinator, said: ‘There was remarkably strong competition for grants in this round that I think is shown in the quality of the seven funded projects: every project will work with an outstanding collection to have a significant impact on audiences and on the museum sector.’

The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund awards grants ranging from £20,000 to £100,000. Decisions are made by a committee of representatives from the Museum Association, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and others from the museum sector.


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