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History of Art - Visual Resources Centre: Slide Collections

The Visual Resources Centre still houses a vast collection of glass lantern slides and 35mm slides. Not only do they act as a resource for researching artworks but they are a pedagogical collection which aids the study of the history of the history of art. Many history of art departments have disposed of their historic slide collections as they are an outdated technology. This makes it all the more important to hold on to collections which were once common place and are now becoming rare.

A particular highlight of both collections are the slides of Oxford and its colleges and museums.

Glass Lantern Slides

The Visual Resources Centre houses approximately 65,000 3 1/4 inch glass plate lantern slides, dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The focus of the collection is UK and European Architecture and European Artists but also includes some slides related to book architectural drawings, book illustrations and English theatre design.

These slides were a teaching resource for University tutors and lecturers but are now quite rare. Some were made at the request of Professor Edgar Wind, the first Professor of Art History at the University. Other slides were acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum but the accession history for the collection is largely unknown.

Though most of the slides are black and white photographs, there are also a small number of hand-painted colour slides.

Approximately 700 slides have been digitised and are available to view on HEIR (Historic Environment Image Resource), a School of Archaeology project to digitise slides from collections across the University. 


35mm Slides

There are approximately 90,000 35mm slides in the Visual Resources Centre. Historically these were used for teaching purposes within the University and are primarily of art and architecture. Although there many slides of other subjects including Chinese ceramics, book illustrations, furniture, coins and medals, to name a few.


The Visual Resources Centre is open

Monday - Thursday 9am - 5pm

Friday 9am - 4pm

If you would like to view the collections or have a question related to the resources please email the Visual Resources Assistant Francesca Issatt at

01865 286839

History of Art Department
University of Oxford
Suite 9, Littlegate House
St Ebbe’s, Oxford
OX1 1PT, United Kingdom