The library has a significant collection of rare books, catalogues and journals from the 19th century through to the present day.
Rare catalogues from influential and groundbreaking exhibitions from the 1960s and 1970s sit alongside artists' books and early publications on the history of sculpture.
The collection is constantly growing, with items being donated and purchased on a regular basis. Items from the collection regularly feature in our library displays and external exhibitions.
All the items in our special collections are listed in our online catalogue and can be viewed in our reading rooms. If you wish to look at material over the weekend you will need to contact the library by 4pm on Friday, so that we can make it available for you.
Below are some highlights from the Research Library's special collections.
The Research Library holds a copy of the catalogue published for Peggy Guggenheim's 1949 sculpture exhibition, Mostra di Scultura Contemporanea, a publication rarely available outside Italy.
The Library's holdings of exhibition catalogues includes a rare copy of the brochure published by the British Council for the 1952 Venice Biennale.
Ceres (fifteen burnt images) was self-published by Keir Smith in August 1980 and opens with a poem, followed by five prints depicting constellations and a further ten of tools and animals used in early farming. The title of the work, Ceres, refers to the Roman Goddess of agriculture and the celestial body named after her.
This boxed publication was produced by the artist, Glen Onwin, in an edition of 100 to accompany an exhibition held at Tramway, Glasgow in March 1994. It contains over 30 separate items which document the show, including installation images, essays by Martin Kemp and Ian Rolfe and 5 glass vials of substances used in the work: salt, coal, oil, copper sulphate and iron pyrite.
Ebb & Flow was produced at Coracle Press, London in 1988 in an edition of 20. A pigment-coated, diagonally torn sheet of paper is concertina-folded between screen-printed and drilled plywood end-panels. The book can be read from any direction as it has no clear defined back or front.
'Bewogen Beweging' ('Moving Movement') brought together artists working in kinetic art, performance, happenings and film. This striking exhibition catalogue is unusually long and thin, measuring 58 x 11cm.
The library holds both catalogues produced by these two key exhibitions of conceptual sculpture from 1969, which brought together developments in Minimal art, Arte Povera, Land art and Conceptual art from the United States and Western Europe.
The Art Journal provided a literary forum for scholarship and discussion of the visual arts in Britain from 1839 until its final publication in 1912. The library holds issues of the Art Journal from 1839-1907 in its special collections.
Founded in London in 1959, Ambit is a quarterly art and literature journal with a reputation for controversy and a well established record for spotting young writers and artists. The special collections contain issues of the magazine from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
This rare 18th century volume contains a comprehensive survey of over one hundred tombs and monuments in Westminster Abbey. Dart's text accurately records the funerary sculpture as it existed at the time, and is still used today to verify the existence of monuments which have since been destroyed or damaged.