MI Collections

The rich history of the Midlands region can be seen and accessed through its diverse and unique sets of collections and archives found in our partner universities. There’s a breadth of materials and mediums that includes fine art, geology, contemporary arts, ceramics, sculpture, photographic, manuscripts, cinematic, performing and the visual arts.

The various collections offer a stimulating range of subject areas and opportunities for collaborative and inter-disciplinary research, partnership development and community engagement. 

Discover more by exploring the materials held by partners – please use the links below.



University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is home to a diverse cultural offer which includes public museums, galleries, archives, libraries and cultural venues. Cultural collections and venues deliver innovative and high quality research, teaching and public engagement and present a diverse range of events and performances throughout the year.

A broad offering of culture and collections, these include:

UoB Abstract in Blue

ID number:  BIRRC-A0059

Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections

Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art

Artist / Maker:  Groves, Robert (1866-1944)

Title / Object name:  Abstract in blue

Object type:  Painting

Date made:  1968

Materials:  Oil on panel

Measurements:  53.3 x 45.7 cm

UoB Ancestor 1_Hepworth

ID number:  BIRRC-L0002

Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections

Named collection:  University Loans Collection

Artist / Maker:  Hepworth, Barbara (1903-1975)

Title / Object name:  Ancestor I

Object type:  Sculpture

Date made:  1970

Materials:  Bronze

Measurements:  280 cm tall

Ancestor I is part of Hepworth’s Family of Man group of sculptures. It is 280 cm tall and made from four separate bronze sections, each weighing about half a ton. These sections can be read as the head, torso, hips and legs of a totemic and authoritative figure.The sculpture recalls the landscape of Cornwall where the artist settled in 1939. There are many ancient stones (menhirs) in the area around St. Ives, which the form of Ancestor I reflects. The bronze is cast from plaster which the artist chipped and rubbed to give it a weathered look - a technique Hepworth called ‘textural calligraphy’. The blue-green paint in the cavities evokes the sea filling the pools and caves along the Cornish coast.Barbara Hepworth received an honorary degree from the University in 1960 and said of the campus “The site has really captured my imagination…I think Ancestor I would stand up to your architectural styles and remain very dominant.” On loan to the University from the Trustees of the Hepworth Estate.




Cranfield University

Specialising in technology and management, Cranfield’s history goes back to 1946 when it was the College of Aeronautics and based at the RAF station in Cranfield, Bedfordshire. 

Lord Kings Norton Archive serves as a permanent memorial to the man who helped guide the development of Cranfield University during the first fifty years of its history. Containing papers, letters, photographs and a host of other documents and items of ephemera, the archive includes many of Lord Kings Norton’s, formerly Sir Harold Roxbee Cox, technical papers, correspondence, articles and speeches.

For more information: http://lordkingsnorton.cranfield.ac.uk/index.html


Lord Kings Norton of Wotton UnderwoodPhD, DIC, FEng, FIMechE, Hon FRAeS

The Schaefer Collection previously belonged to Professor Glen Schaefer, the head of the Ecological Physics Research Group at Cranfield Institute of Technology. The collection of books built up by Professor Schaefer numbers some 3,500. They reflect his interests both inside and outside his work. Subjects covered include works on religion and theology, including a large collection of Christian Science material, comparative religion, bible study and books on the reconciliation of science with religion. There is a large collection of works on philosophy. The sciences, biology (with particular depths in evolution and zoology), chemistry, and physics are all covered. There are many works on psychology, particularly psychic phenomena and the paranormal. Also books on the occult and astrology. Astronomy is also well covered, as is material on the physical origins of the universe. Other subjects include folklore and mythology, art and the arts, and also there is a large selection of English literature.

The Russian Military Studies Archive is managed by Cranfield University on behalf of the Defence Academy. The Archive houses over 16,000 individual books, some of which are rare, and in the case of much of the Russian-language material, especially works published pre-1980, very difficult or very expensive to obtain now.

The collection contains material such as BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, Foreign Broadcast Information Service Reports, RAND papers, Soviet Army Studies Papers and many journals including:

  • 30 years’ worth of the USSR’s/Russia’s main military medical journal Voenno-meditsinskiy zhurnal

  • 40 years of the Soviet/Russian Navy’s journal Morskoi Sbornik

  • Over 30 years of the Soviet/ Russian Ground Forces journal Voenniy Vestnik and the Soviet Air Force main monthly Aviatsiya I Kosmonavtika

Amongst the maps is a very rare collection of former Soviet General Staff maps of the USSR, produced on the eve of the invasion of the USSR in June 1941. However, the bulk of the maps are Soviet/Russian/English maps of the various constituent republics of the USSR/CIS/Russian Federation, Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Near and Far East, etc.

For more information: http://diglib.shrivenham.cranfield.ac.uk/rmsa/about-us


Keele University

The Special Collections and Archives comprise a variety of material, such as medieval manuscripts, seals, correspondence, ledgers, maps, plans, watercolours, sketches, lantern plates, photographs, rare books and microfilm. 

The major collections and archives include: Arnold Bennett Papers, Wilfred Bloor Papers, Foundations of British Sociology Archive, T. E. Hulme Collection, William Jack Collection, Knight and Sons Papers, A.D. Lindsay Papers, Karl Mannheim Papers, Paget Papers, Ray Pahl Papers, Pape Collection, Raymond Richards Collection, Sneyd Papers, Spode Papers, Tamworth Court Rolls, Warrillow Collection, and J.C. Wedgwood Papers.

The Local Collection comprises over 5,000 books, plus pamphlets, newspapers, journals, directories and maps relating to the history of Staffordshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire and Shropshire.

For more information:  https://www.keele.ac.uk/library/specarc/

The Raven Mason ceramic collection contains many important pieces outlining the development of Mason Ceramics in Staffordshire from the beginning of the nineteenth century.

For more information: https://www.keele.ac.uk/discover/artskeele/whatson/ravenmason/

ArtsKeele is a vibrant arts programme, comprising art, music, poetry, performances and other cultural treats.  For more information: https://www.keele.ac.uk/discover/artskeele/

Keele Almacks Panorama

Almack's Assembly Rooms, by Charlotte Augusta Sneyd,1819-1820Section from a watercolour measuring 228cm  x 25cmSneyd Papers, Keele University Special Collections and Archives

Keele Warrillow Etruria

View of Etruria (1946) by E. J. D. Warrillow, showing the bottle ovens and rooftops of the old Wedgwood Works, the tall chimneys of ‘Shelton Bar’, and a glimpse of Etruria Hall.Copyright Warrillow Collection, Keele University Special Collections and Archives


University of Leicester

The University Archives contain the institutional archives of the University of Leicester and its predecessor bodies and affiliated bodies, including photographs, press cuttings and committee records.

For more information: https://www2.le.ac.uk/library/find/specialcollections/universityarchives

The University Library has extensive collections of rare books, manuscripts, historical photographs, engraved portrait prints and personal archives.  Broad themes for the collections include all aspects of History; Modern Literary Archives; Art, Music and Museum Studies; and Medicine, Science and Mathematics.

For more information: https://www2.le.ac.uk/library/find/specialcollections

With over 18 years of experience, the Attenborough Arts Centre offers performance, courses and workshops, contemporary art exhibitions and much more.

For more information: https://www2.le.ac.uk/hosted/attenborougharts

Leics_Portrait of artists two sons

Cartwright, Reg, “Portrait of the artist's two sons, 1969,” Leicester Special Collections, accessed August 29, 2018, https://leicester.omeka.net/items/show/9.
Portrait in oils of the artist's two sons, 1969, from: Ann Cartwright, To What Extent is Reg Cartwright a Naïve Painter?, p. 7, RAC/16.©Reg Cartwright. All Rights Reserved.

The University of Leicester Art Collection. The University holds a collection of fine and decorative art including paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and decorative arts such as furniture.  Highlights of the collection include works by Eduardo Paolozzi and the celebrated arts and crafts master Ernest Gimson.

For more information: please contact Jeremy Webster (Deputy Director, Attenborough Arts Centre) via email: Jeremy.webster@leicester.ac.uk


Loughborough University

The Art Collection at Loughborough University exists to enhance the campus environment and ranges from public sculptures to wall-mounted works in buildings across the campus. A number of particularly interesting works were purchased under the guidance of Stewart Mason, Leicestershire’s progressive Director of Education from 1947-71; and new pieces continue to be commissioned as the campus is developed.

The Furniture Collection includes a number of works made by students training to be secondary ‘Handicraft’ teachers during the institution’s early years. This course was overseen by Art & Design furniture luminaries including Edward Barnsley, Peter de Waals and Ernest Gimson, all of whom designed pieces in the collection. There are also a small number of works produced by the Rural Industries Bureau

For more information: http://www.arts.lboro.ac.uk/collection/

The David Lewis Collection consists of around 4000 printed books and around 1000 printed journal volumes, mostly from the period 1850­–1950 (managed by the Library).

For more information: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/library/students/usingthelibrary/davidlewiscollection/

The University Archives holds written, photographic and other material relating to the university and its predecessor colleges, as well as papers of former staff and students.

For more information: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/library/students/usingthelibrary/universityarchives/


Items from Loughborough University’s art and furniture collections in LU Arts’ office, designed by Giles Round.’ Photo by Julian Hughes
‘The sculpture is by an unknown artist and is called ‘Machu Picchu’, the table is from the Rural Industries Bureau, the chairs are by former Handicraft students, and the print is John Piper’s Flintham’. 


University of Nottingham

Manuscripts and Special Collections preserves and provide public access to the University of Nottingham's collections of archives, rare books and local studies materials comprising over 3 million manuscripts in over 700 archive collections and 80,000 printed items


Museum of Archaeology has a collection of archaeological artefacts from Nottinghamshire and the wider East Midlands 

Nottingham Lakeside Arts is The University of Nottingham’s public arts programme of performances, exhibitions, workshops and talks.


UoN paper and Pixels

Parchment, Paper and Pixels

A free iBook showcasing some of the treasures held in Manuscripts and Special Collections, with a range of short articles illustrated with images, sound and video.

It includes mediaeval manuscripts, archives, maps, posters, photographs, rare printed books and music and covers the globe from Iceland to China by way of Nottingham and the Soviet Union. Notable personalities featured include Robin Hood and DH Lawrence and it introduces the father of English geology, William Smith, and one of the world’s first ornithologists, Francis Willughby.



University of Warwick

Warwick Arts Centre is one of the largest multi-artform venues in the UK, delivering high quality cinema, performing and visual arts.

For more information: https://www.warwickartscentre.co.uk/

The University of Warwick Art Collection comprises over 900 artworks, including ceramics, digital media, drawings, glass works, mixed media works, paintings, photographs, prints, sculptures and textiles.

For more information: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/art/

Warwick Introductory Exhibition

For an introduction to the University's art collection by the Curator, Sarah Shalgosky, see the Introductory Exhibition video.


The Modern Records Centre is the main British repository for national archives of trade unions and employer’s organisations.  It also has strong collections relating to pressure groups, fringe political parties and transport.  The majority of holdings date from the late 19th century onwards.

For more information: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/library/mrc/holdings/



How do I get involved?

To access the collections please click on the links above for the particular area you’re interested in.  These will take you to the individual university pages where an overview and details for whom to contact for more information will be available.

If you are based in one of our partner universities and would like to add to these collection pages then please contact the Midlands Innovation team – info@midlandsinnovation.org.uk

Contact information

If you have any questions relating to the information on this page please contact the Midlands Innovation team – info@midlandsinnovation.org.uk