University collections

The University of Birmingham is home to hundreds of thousands of unique objects across its many collections. You can discover all these treasures at our dedicated venues and stunning exhibitions. 

The Cadbury Research Library 

The Cadbury Research Library, based in the Muirhead Tower at the heart of the Edgbaston Campus, is home to the University's Special Collections. The archive encompasses around 200,000 rare books dating from 1471, and some 4 million manuscripts. 

Seventeenth century manuscript of the Four Gospels

Feed your curiosity and come and consult the extensive archives, manuscripts and rare book collections in our invigilated reading room, or contact us about group visits. Collection consultation is free and open to everyone. Make sure you register as a reader to access these unique records. Browse the online catalogues, or the many albums of images from the Collections on our Flickr, and you could find the beginnings of a new interest and passion, from fine printing to the Chamberlain Papers. The Cadbury Research Library also has a reprographics imaging service. 

The Cadbury Research Library also hosts a range of events to showcase the unusual, inspiring and significant items in its extensive collections. Regular exhibitions bring archives to life and our suite of talks give you an expert’s perspective on the history, interpretation and enduring fascination of some of the Cadbury Research Library’s most exciting holdings. These include the internationally important Mingana Collection of over 3,000 Middle Eastern Manuscripts, famous for containing one of the world’s oldest Qur’an manuscripts. What might you find when you visit? 

Discover more about the Cadbury Research Library

University of Birmingham Qur’an manuscript among world’s oldest

Research and Cultural Collections

The University of Birmingham has thousands of objects in its Research and Cultural Collections. From West African masks to Pop Art prints, to celestial globes and 19th Century medical waxes, the Collections are a cornucopia of extraordinary artefacts.

Students wearing latex gloves being shown some artefacts by a member of staff in Research and Cultural Collections

From these Collections a suite of permanent and temporary exhibitions are displayed across campus. The Collections are split between six categories: Fine and Decorative Art, Historic Physics Instruments, West African Art and Artefacts, Archaeology Museum, Medical School collection and the University Heritage collection. There is a popular programme of temporary exhibitions which are held in the Rotunda of the Aston Webb building. These offer an exciting new interpretation of the permanent Collections. The Collections team also host events relating to the exhibitions such as guest lectures, poetry readings and art ‘happenings’.

Those parts of the Research and Cultural Collections that are housed within teaching rooms and departments are open to the public by appointment only. However, in order to give access to everyone around the world, the majority of the Collections are available to view on our online database and blog. There are also a number of campus culture trails including a Sculpture, Blue Plaque and Eduardo Paolozzi trail. We also offer guided tours and ‘behind the scenes’ talks to give you a unique perspective often not seen by the public. 

Discover more about the University's Research and Cultural Collections