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Special collections for research & inspiration

Middlesex University holds a number of collections of objects which you can use to support your studies. As a Middlesex student you are welcome to use all of this material including fashion, comics, wallpaper, textiles, special books, ephemera and more. The collections are housed either in the Materials Room in the Sheppard Library, Hendon or at the Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture - the design museum of Middlesex University.

The Materials Room is currently open by appointment only. To book an appointment, please email Marion M.Syratt-Barnes@mdx.ac.uk  

Using these collections can help you to develop your creativity and enhance your research skills. These skills can help you in your future career, whichever path you take.

Some of the items in these collections are unique and fragile, so the way you access them will be different to usual library materials. However, remember that the collections are here for you to explore, handle and browse, and staff are here to help you find your way around.

  • Find out more about the type of collections and how to see these collections in person

    • Advertising

      The Library of Historic Advertising is a vast collection of advertisements taken from UK and American magazines. Thousands of adverts are organised into categories such as travel, clothing, transport and food and range in date from the 19th century to the 1970s.  Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture's collections of magazines (mainly from the same dates) also include adverts for all kinds of products. A wealth of fascinating images for anyone looking at the story of advertising or social history.

    • Books

      Both the library and Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture hold a large number of wonderful editions of rare and illustrated books.  Of interest to anyone keen on illustration, book design and typography  - and great for everyone with a general interest in getting visual inspiration. The Special Books Collection and Illustrated Book Collection are held in the Sheppard Library.
      As part of the Special Books Collection there are many artists' books showing an amazing range of formats and materials as a source of ideas for designing, making and illustrating all kinds of books.

    • Designs

      The Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture has around 40,000 original hand-drawn designs for wallpaper and textile designs. Great for getting ideas for all sorts of projects, especially if you are interested in pattern.

    • Ephemera

      The Ephemera Collection includes postcards, greeting cards, pamphlets, flyers, maps and all kinds of "throwaway" graphic material.  The Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture's collections include lots of material collected by designers as inspiration, including Victorian postcards, sheet music, and much more. Fabulous for budding graphic designers, and everyone interested in typography and printed design. Also Middlesex Ephemera includes handbooks, architectural plans and art & design degree show publicity material.

    • Fashion

      The Fashion Collection contains an amazing collection of items of clothing, including dresses, coats, shoes, hats, and also haberdashery and fabric samples, from the Victorian era to 1970s. A rich source of historical material for designers to photograph, draw or study.

    • Magazines and Trade catalogues

      The Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture has a wide selection of magazines ranging from Woman's Weekly  to Fancy Needlework Illustrated, and Practical Householder, which are of interest for their illustrations, layout and typography as well as their contents.  Plus an excellent collection of trade catalogues from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century, featuring all kinds of products for the home, from taps to doorknobs, and lamps to linoleum.

      The Sheppard library has a wide range of current and retrospective art & design journals which include Vogue from the 1950s, Picture Post and the Illustrated London News.

    • Product Information

      We have a Samples Collection of several thousands of product samples from manufacturers, focusing on new and exciting materials for buildings and interiors. Samples range from floor tiles, glass, wood, plastics to fabrics and paint swatches.  Brilliant for interior architecture but also offering ideas for textures, surfaces and materials for all designers.
      If you are interested in the design of products from the past, The Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture has a great selection of brochures and sales catalogues from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, featuring everything from concrete to cushions and taps to teapots.

    • Textiles

      The Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture has around 4,000 printed and woven textiles, dating from around 1800 to 1960.  Great for textile buffs, but also of interest if you are thinking about colour or texture, or looking for specific motifs.

    • Wallpapers

      The Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture has around 5,000 wallpaper samples and wallpaper books, mostly from the twentieth century.  Of interest to anyone who's into flat pattern, but inspiring for all kinds of other creative work too.

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