Libraries, Museums and Galleries are a key part of the University of Liverpool's mission to excel in education and research, and offer a welcoming window into the University for our local communities and neighbours.

Our collections are truly global, spanning the world and highlighting our place within it. We are part of an international collective collection, which brings both opportunities and responsibilities.

We are working with our partners and stakeholders to better understand, document and present the difficult histories associated with some of our collections. Thanks to our integrated heritage structure, staff are able to work together across all our departments.

The Digital Heritage Lab aims to showcase our collections holistically and allow us, and you, to draw links between objects in different parts of the collection.


Special Collections and Archives

Special Collections and Archives, based in the Sydney Jones Library, cares for the University's unique and distinctive collections of printed books, manuscripts, and archives of the University of Liverpool, and makes them available in perpetuity.

Our collections comprise rare and unique materials that cover a broad range of subjects of academic interest. The Special Collections and Archives team are responsible for collecting, preserving, promoting and providing access to our extraordinary collections and the stories they contain.

Our collection highlights include:

  • Printed books, pamphlets and manuscripts dating from the 12th to the 21st century,
  • Europe’s largest catalogued collection of Science Fiction material (including the Science Fiction Foundation Collection),
  • Nearly 2 miles of archives, including the University of Liverpool Archive, the Cunard Archive, and the Institute of Popular Music Archive.

Special Collections and Archives supports the University curriculum by providing opportunities for students to engage with primary sources, in dedicated sessions that may be embedded into modules. Regular courses include children’s literature and science fiction.


Victoria Gallery & Museum

The Victoria Gallery & Museum collects, safeguards, and provides access to objects that are held in trust for society. It is housed in one of the crown jewels of Liverpool’s heritage collection, the Victoria Building itself – the original red brick.

Designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the Victoria Building was opened in 1892. The use of ordinary bricks and terracotta dressings for the Gothic exterior led to the coining of the phrase ‘red brick university’. The building was the centre of University life, including common rooms, the Leggate Lecture Theatre, and the Tate Library, designed to hold 80,000 volumes.

After the University acquired more buildings in Abercromby Square, and the Harold Cohen Library opened in 1938, the Victoria Building was used for a variety of purposes. After a major restoration project, in 2008 it was officially reopened by Princess Anne as the Victoria Gallery & Museum.

The Victoria Gallery & Museum’s mission is to enable people to explore our collections for inspiration, knowledge and enjoyment. The world’s most important display of false teeth can be found under the same roof as exhibitions of historic and contemporary art.

Garstang Museum of Archaeology

The Garstang Museum of Archaeology was founded in 1904, as the Liverpool Institute of Archaeology, by John Garstang (1876-1956).

Garstang started his career in 1899 with famous archaeologist Flinders Petrie at Abydos. He was appointed Honorary Reader in Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Liverpool in 1902. Over the course of his career, he conducted excavations in Egypt, Sudan, Anatolia and Palestine, and directed archaeological institutes in Sudan, Ankara, and Jerusalem.

Collection highlights include artefacts from Egypt, Sudan and the Near East (including a large Egyptian Afterlife Gallery), classical pottery and coins, 15 Oxyrhynchus papyri, and the reports and documentary photographs from Garstang's excavations.

We are currently conducting work to examine the links between Garstang's collections and imperialism. Local workers, who were responsible for most of the excavations, are under-represented in the documentation and we are working to address this.

In addition to the public galleries, the collection is an important part of teaching and research into archaeology, ancient history, classics and Egyptology at the University. Archaeological collections and archive materials are used in our undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and research. Work placements in the museum also help our students to gain valuable career experience.


General Information

The University of Liverpool’s main site is located around Brownlow Hill in the Knowledge Quarter of Liverpool city centre. Most of our buildings are in this area. Directions on how to find us can be found here: Visiting the University.

We work in partnership with both researchers and community organisation to explore the history of our collections, and encourage interest in using them in research proposals. We recommend that you get in touch with the relevant department as early as possible in the process of writing your funding application, so that the appropriate resources can be scoped and any costs identified.


How to arrange a visit

Special Collections and Archives (SCA) is open to researchers by prior appointment, Tuesday-Friday, 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm. For enquiries about using SCA material, please email the team on or call +44 (0) 151 794 2696. For more information, please see the Visiting and Using SCA page.

The Garstang Museum is open to the public for general visits on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10am-4pm. For access to the Garstang Museum’s collections or photographic archives for research purposes, please contact the curatorial team at at least 6 weeks in advance. For access to the Garstang paper archives, please contact SCA.

The Victoria Gallery & Museum is open to the public from Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm. Last entry to the galleries is at 4:30pm. For access to the Art and Heritage collections for research purposes, please contact the curatorial team on at least 6 weeks in advance.