For a thousand years the Jewish community of Old Cairo put their worn-out writings into a synagogue storage room, a genizah. Explore one of the greatest collections of Cambridge University Library and a remarkable survival of the medieval past. Discarded History: The Genizah of Medieval Cairo provides a window on the life of a community a thousand years ago – a Jewish community in the centre of a thriving Islamic empire, international in outlook, multicultural in make up, devout to its core.
This display charts the changing visual culture of anthropology in India. It begins with the growth of the East India Company and follows the history of anthropology through to Indian Independence in 1947. Anthropological theories underwent significant change throughout this period. In the early nineteenth century, anthropologists tended to describe Indian castes and tribes in Romantic terms. But, as the British Empire continued to expand, anthropology was also used to support scientific racism and colonial violence. Despite these troubling legacies, Indians themselves also made extensive use of anthropology. Anthropological theories provided a means to critique the colonial state and bolster a sense of national identity.
This exhibition highlights the conservation of the Cambridge University Press Archive, providing a unique opportunity to see a selection of original documents and learn how they have been conserved to ensure their continued availability for researchers. The items on display include some of the earliest records dating back to 1586, letters from authors and cuttings of artwork used for publication.
You can read more about the project on our special collections blog.
Find out why the University Library has a pair of Indian slippers in its collections, how psychic thumbprints were made, and why Charles Darwin was sent beard hair in the post. From an ostrich feather and ectoplasm to an old boot and a boomerang, the curious objects in this exhibition all have a part to play in telling the story of the Library, and form a cabinet of curiosities that opens a window onto the nature of collecting.
Miguel de Cervantes died in 1616. This anniversary is an opportunity to showcase some rarely seen material from a wide number of collections within the University Library, focusing on Cervantes’ most celebrated character: Don Quixote. The aim is to highlight some of the ways in which this figure has been appropriated by readers, artists and other writers throughout the centuries. This exhibition features a wide range of beautifully illustrated material.
View online by clicking on the image to the left.
To complement our major exhibition, Curious Objects, we have collected twenty more curiosities, from a biscuit tin globe to advice on ‘Bicycling for Ladies’. Thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Library has photographed these items and made them available in this special Collected Curiosities online exhibition. A selection will be on display in the Library Entrance Hall from 3 to 10 December.
In 1866, the great novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky published his most famous work. Set in St Petersburg and Siberia, Crime and Punishment follows the story of student-turned-murderer Rodion Raskolnikov. This exhibition, curated by a mixed group of arts and sciences students at the University of British Columbia, is part of a transatlantic project to celebrate Crime and Punishment as the novel turns 150.
Lines of Thought celebrates 600 years of the University Library by tracing six key concepts that have shaped the world, and uncovering the role Cambridge University Library and its collections have played in the development of those concepts over six hundred years; from 1416 back to the third millennium BCE and forward to the present day, this exhibition includes some of the most iconic treasures in the Library.
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716–1783) remains one of the most influential figures in British garden history. Only a tiny minority had the estate and the money needed to realise his schemes, but the expanding publishing industry served the largest audience for his landscapes – the armchair traveller. A legion of artists served this market, recording Brown’s work in pencil, oil, watercolour and ink. This exhibition reveals some of the rich pictorial record of Brown’s landscapes.