Special Collections items currently on exhibition

Special Collections items currently on exhibition


In the showcase of the foyer of Special Collections on level 12 of the University of Glasgow Library

June - September 2018

The Bayer Collection

This display continues the focus on William Hunter (1718-1783) and his library in this tercentenary year of his birth.

Some of the unusual material in Hunter’s library comes from his acquisition of the collection of oriental books and manuscripts of Theophilus Siegfried Bayer (1694-1738).  Born in Königsberg, Bayer at an early age developed an interest in oriental languages, in particular Chinese, which he pursued during a study tour (1716-1717) to Berlin, Halle, and Leipzig.  Returning to his native city, he eventually became pro-rector of the Cathedral school in 1721. In 1725 he accepted an invitation to assume a post in the recently founded Academy of Sciences at St Petersburg as Professor of Greek and Roman Antiquities.  While there he published his major work, the Museum Sinicum (1730) a copy of which he sent to the Jesuit missionaries at Beijing. Through regular correspondence with them, Bayer was able to advance his understanding of the Chinese language, and receive from the Jesuits some fifty Chinese books. In 1737 he decided to return to  Königsberg, sending most of his books and papers ahead of him by boat, but by January he had fallen ill with a fever, dying on 10 February 1738, aged only 44.

Following his death, his collection of approximately 200 Chinese and other oriental books and manuscripts was acquired by Heinrich Walther Gerdes, a Lutheran pastor resident in London.  It was via Gerdes’ widow, who offered the collection for sale, that Bayer’s collection came to rest in William Hunter’s library.

On display are Bayer’s own copy of Museum Sinicum, a Chinese Star Atlas and Hunter’s original Catalogue of the Bayer Collection.

Exhibition curated by David Weston and Fiona Neale, Archives and Special Collections. David Weston has recently completed a preliminary catalogue of the Bayer Collection.

On display in the Hunterian Art Gallery

The Philosophy Chamber: art and science in Harvard's teaching cabinet, 1766-1820

17 April - 15 July 2018

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, Harvard is one of the world’s most distinguished and best-known universities. The Philosophy Chamber reunites exceptional works of art and artefacts from its collections, many of which have not been on show for nearly two hundred years and places them in the context of objects used and collected at the same time on the other side of the Atlantic, at the University of Glasgow.

Eight items from Archives and Special Collections feature in this exhibition, including books donated to teh University by Richard Hollis, archival material relating to James Watt, and a design by William Adam for the Old College Library.

External Exhibitions

No items are currently loaned out for external exhibitons.