Birmingham City Council

Exhibition Catalogues in the Central Library

Important Update July 2011 - At the present time access to this collection is closed to allow for preparation of stock in readiness for the move to the new Library of Birmingham in 2013. Find out more about the changes in Central Library

"An exhibition is a collection of pictures, sculptures, or other things in a public place where people can come to look at them."
" A catalogue is a book containing a list of all the objects in an exhibition, museum or art gallery, usually with extra information and illustrations."
Americans - National Portrait Gallery

How far back does the collection go?

The collection was first startedin the 1970s by the newly established Fine Arts Department to add to the Arts Council publications already taken. It was thought that exhibition catalogues would provide a new and vital area of stock for both art students, enthusiasts and members of the public who liked visiting art galleries and museums. They can also be extremely difficult to obtain when out of print. During the ensuing years, the catalogues have been heavily used and are a very popular area of stock.


Shamiana - The Mughal Tent


How large is the collection?

The collection currently stands at over 23,000 items and is continually being added to. Over 50% are donated free by galleries and institutions throughout the British Isles. Art Magazines such as Burlington Magazine, Apollo and Art Review are scanned for news of current and forthcoming shows.

Museum of the Mind

What do they cover?

A wide range of subject matter is covered, from photography, academic and traditional schools of painting and sculpture, to the latest forms of art, including performance, light and sound installations. A catalogue can vary from a single page to over 400.


Some famous names!

Below are listed just a few of the famous names that are included in the collection.



William Morris

Henry Moore

Tracey Emin

J. M. W. Turner

John Constable

David Hockney

Cecil Beaton

Damien Hirst

Chris Ofili

Lucian Freud

Howard Hodgkin

Andy Warhol

Georgia O'Keeffe


How do I access the collection?

The collection is held in a closed access store. You can access it by using the Library Catalogue which is available on the internet or a card index accessible in Arts, Languages and Literature. Exhibition Catalogues are denoted by the abbreviations EC before the location number.

You can use the online Library Catalogue to help you locate material. Some items published before 1973 or that are in the Collections may not be listed in the online catalogue.

Most of the current material is available for browsing on the shelves. Older or valuable items are held in a closed access store and can be made available on request.

As some items held in the store are valuable you will be asked to provide proof of your name and address. To consult certain particularly rare and valuable items you will need to book an appointment.

All our staff are pleased to help you with your enquiry which can be made in person, via telephone,fax, e-mail or letter. It is always advisable to contact us before you make a special journey.


Arts, Languages and Literature
Collections