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Barber Institute of Fine Art

University of Birmingham



B15 2TS


tel: +44 (0)121 4147333




email: [email protected]



Contact details: Maria Vrij


Date of visit: 9 October 2013


Nature and extent of collection


16,000 pieces. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts contains one of the largest and most significant collections of Byzantine and Late Roman coins in the world. It also houses smaller collections of contemporaneous medieval European and Middle Eastern coin series and various modern collections, including the Guest collection of Hungarian coinage.



All numbers below are estimated


Greek coins: Small collection (30)

Iron Age coins: Small collection (10-15)

Roman coins: 630 Roman Republican pieces, 3900 Roman imperial pieces, 670 Late Roman pieces

British coins: Small medieval collection (20)

European coins: Byzantine (6840 in the general series, 163 from the Mardin hoard, 82 from other hoards), various medieval series, including Armenian (230), Balkan (13), Georgian (13), Lombard and Norman (45), Merovingian and Burgundian (5), Visigothic and Vandal (90) and western medieval (60)

Asian coins: Turkmen (550), Chinese (5)

Middle Eastern coins: Arab-Byzantine (75), Crusader (60), Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian (1040)

Modern money: Guest Collection of Hungarian collection, including modern and medieval items

Medals: Small handling collection

Paranumismatica: Small collection including weights and clay tokens


Specific strengths: Byzantine, Arab-Byzantine, Late Roman, Roman imperial.


Library: The library is part of the University of Birmingham library holdings and consists mainly of numismatic publications (including some sale catalogues) to support the core areas of the collection, with specific strengths in Byzantine, late Roman and Middle Eastern medieval coin series and Hungarian coinage.





Database used: Filemaker Pro


Proportion of collection on database: 90-95 %


How much detail in database entries? Varies considerably by series.


Are images incorporated? Almost all records include images.


Is the database accessible to the public? No.


Is the database publicly accessible online? What is the URL if so? No.





Are there permanent numismatic displays? Yes.


Is numismatic material incorporated into more general displays? No.


Is there a facility for temporary exhibitions? Yes.


Have there been numismatic exhibitions in the past? If so, what? Yes, several BM collaborations.



Access to the collection


Is there a study facility? Yes.


Is equipment (balances, magnifying glasses, etc.) provided? Yes.



Public engagement with numismatic collection


Is there a handling collection? Yes.


Are numismatic collections used in Education sessions? Sometimes.


Do numismatic collections feature in gallery talks, lectures? Yes.


Are there other engagement activities based around numismatic collections? Occasionally.



ID and public enquiries


Does the museum offer a service for identifying objects and other public enquiries? N/A



Curatorial knowledge


Is there any numismatic expertise in-house? If so, who, and in what areas? The permanent curator is a specialist in Byzantine numismatics.


Is there access to external expertise? If so, who and in what areas? N/A


If there is expertise in-house, is there a willingness/capacity to share that with other museums? N/A