Welcome to the Summer 2015 issue of Original magazine. This edition of our flagship research publication turns the spotlight on the University of Birmingham’s rich cultural heritage: a diverse range of assets including public museums, galleries and archives, libraries and major arts venues. All of these provide an exceptional cultural resource for students, academics and researchers alike, and promote major international collaborations in which our collections can be shared and enjoyed by a global audience.
Culture is at the heart of the Birmingham experience, informing the University’s past and shaping its future; enabling us to deliver innovative teaching, research, and public engagement of the highest quality.
We are proud to include among our cultural assets the renowned Barber Institute of Fine Arts, historic Winterbourne House and Garden, the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, and the Ironbridge Institute for Cultural Heritage. Our Cadbury Research Library houses treasures including the University’s vast collection of historic manuscripts while the Bramall Music Building offers a state-of-the-art auditorium and teaching space for the music department.
This issue of Original is an opportunity for us to publicly announce that we have recently been found to possess part of one of the world’s oldest Qur’ans. Radiocarbon analysis of parchment leaves held in our Mingana Collection of research manuscripts has confirmed that they date from the Seventh Century, making them of global significance to Muslim heritage and the study of Islam.
You can also read how the University has embarked on a landmark partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company. This five-year collaboration will see the reinstatement of the iconic studio theatre The Other Place, which closed in 2005, with the University as a founding partner of the new venue. Opening next year to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and the World Shakespeare Congress, it will bring fresh and exciting new opportunities for research and creative practice.
I hope you enjoy reading Original, and sharing it with colleagues and friends.
Professor David Eastwood