University plans to put treasures on display

Plans to put some of the Brotherton Library's treasures on permanent display have moved closer thanks to a £108,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Medieval travelling library from the Brotherton Library's Special Collections


From ancient clay tablets to the manuscripts of Graham Greene and Oscar Wilde, a First Folio of Shakespeare to the archives of modern poets like Tony Harrison and Simon Armitage – the University library has a unique collection of treasures.

The University has one of the country’s foremost academic libraries, thanks in large part to Lord Brotherton of Wakefield who both funded the building of the Brotherton Library during his lifetime and bequeathed his own magnificent collection of rare books and manuscripts to the University. Further gifts and purchases over many decades have enabled the University to build a priceless collection of artefacts, irreplaceable manuscripts and nearly 200,000 rare books.

Now the University’s Treasures of the Brotherton project aims to create an exhibition gallery to showcase the collection for the public. It will house a permanent display of major library treasures and a changing series of temporary exhibitions exploring different aspects of the collection. Workshops, talks, discussions and entertainment will help bring the archives alive for a variety of audiences.

The total cost will be £1.9million, but the initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help develop the plans further – with a view to the University applying for a much larger grant to bring the project to fruition. The University has also received a generous private donation to support the project.

Katy Goodrum, Head of Special Collections, said: “This project will revolutionise access to our collections. We have some amazing, unique treasures and they deserve to be seen by a much wider audience. We are grateful to the HLF for sharing our vision to achieve this.”

Fiona Spiers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for Yorkshire and the Humber said: “We’re extremely pleased to give initial support to this project. The collections at the Brotherton Library are of international significance and this project will deservedly see them opened up to the wider public.”

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