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Museum Week

As part of Museum Week 2024, we would like to invite you to read about some of the wonderful Museum libraries that have their library catalogues available on Library Hub Discover. The collections of these Museum libraries not only support the research work of museum staff but are accessible to visitors and researchers.

British Museum Library

The British Museum first opened its doors to the public in 1749, the first national public museum in the world to do so. Its collections explore two million years of history and culture, across more than 50 galleries. Today, the advancement of scientific research, open debate, and fostering of global community remain core to the work of the people who work there, through care and interpretation of the more than eight million objects in its collection.

The Museum’s library service to be found at the Museum, comprising some 300,000 volumes. The collections represent the fruits of decades of specialist collecting across the Museum’s curatorial, scientific and conservation departments. Whilst the collections support the research activities of Museum staff, they are also made available to visitors, where they can be consulted alongside objects and documents from the archival collections.

Find out more about the library and how to access these collections on their Discover information page.

Gerald Coke Handel Collection, The Foundling Museum Library

Inside the Reading Room Gerald Coke Handel Collection
Reading Room Gerald Coke Handel Collection

The Foundling Museum tells the story of the UK’s first children’s charity which was established to care for and educate children at risk of abandonment. William Hogarth helped transform the Hospital into the UK’s first public art gallery and George Frideric Handel held benefit concerts in the Hospital’s chapel, both raising support for the Hospital.

The Gerald Coke Handel Collection focuses on Handel and his musical contemporaries in Britain, and comprises over12,000 items relating to 18th century music. These include about 1,000 manuscripts, as well as printed books, music scores, libretti, performance ephemera and artworks from the 18th century to the present; the collection now acquires modern research and antiquarian material, including sound recordings.

Find out more about the library and how to access these collections on their Discover information page.

National Museums of Scotland Library

National Museums Scotland collections reflect Scottish history, international cultures, natural and physical sciences, and decorative art for Scotland. The Museum includes the National Museum of Flight, the National War Museum, and the National Museum of Rural Life.

Founded over 230 years ago with its roots in the Collections of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, the National Museums Scotland library is now a modern research library and the largest museum library collection in Scotland. Open to the public for reference, there are two sites with access – The Research Library and the National War Museum Library.

The library collection reflects the strengths and variety of the Museum’s collections and research interests. Subjects covered in the collection include archaeology, Scottish history and culture, world-wide decorative and applied arts, natural sciences, Scottish military history and the history of science and technology.

Find out more about the library and how to access these collections on their Discover information page.

Museum of the Order of St John Library

Inside the Museum of the Order of St. John Library
Museum of the Order of St. John Library

The Museum of the Order of St. John tells the story of its origins of the Order, caring for sick pilgrims in eleventh century Jerusalem, through to its modern-day role with St John Ambulance, the international first aid charity.

The library is a reference collection specialising in the history of the Knights Hospitaller, the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem and the international first aid charity St John Ambulance.

The library holds significant resources on subject areas such as the crusades, the history of the military and religious orders in Europe, the geography and history of the islands of Malta, Gozo and Rhodes, and of the Priory of Clerkenwell in London. Also well represented in the collection are works on heraldry, genealogy, archaeology, and numismatics, particularly related to the Order of St. John and its members.

Find out more about the library and how to access these collections on their  Discover information page.

Victoria and Albert Museum Library

Inside the Victoria and Albert Museum Library
Victoria and Albert Museum Library

The V&A shares a 5,000-year-old story of creativity. Its collections of over 2.8 million objects in art and design are housed in a family of museums.

The National Art Library holds one of the UK’s most comprehensive collections of literature on the fine and decorative arts, including  manuscripts, exhibition catalogues, auction house sales catalogues, comics, and much more. The library holds around one million books on subjects central to the V&A collections including prints, drawings, paintings, photographs, ceramics and glass, textiles and fashion, furniture, design, metalwork, and sculpture. The library showcases developments, collections, displays and research projects on the library’s blog.

Find out more about the library and how to access these collections on their  Discover information page.

Wallace Collection Library

The Wallace Collection is a national museum and is home to one of the most significant collections of fine and decorative arts in the world, with masterpieces in painting, sculpture, furniture, arms and porcelain.

The Wallace Collection Library and Archives reflect the collections and history of the Museum and its founders. With material on a wide range of subject areas including French 17th and 18th century decorative arts, European sculpture from the Renaissance to the 18th century, Medieval and Renaissance decorative arts, Portrait miniatures and much more. The Wallace Collection Library is part of the Senate House Libraries at the University of London.

Find out more about the library and how to access these collections on their Discover Information page.

Wellcome Collection Library

Photograph showing the interior of the Wellcome Collection Library
Wellcome Collection Library

The Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library exploring health and human experience. Inspired by the medical objects and curiosities collected by Henry Wellcome, it connects science, medicine, life, and art. Through its exhibitions, live programming, and digital and publishing activity, it makes thought provoking content which aims to challenge how we think and feel about health.

The library is one of the world’s finest for the study of the social and cultural contexts of health. It houses 2.5million items including rare medieval manuscripts which relate to medicine and the body, such as vividly illustrated almanacs, scrolls and practitioners’ manuals, as well as a growing collection of contemporary resources.

Find out more about the library and how to access these collections on their Discover Information page.

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All images reproduced with kind permission of the copyright holders.

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