In brief

Special Collections brings together the University of Washington Libraries' most rare and unique resources. From papyrus to born-digital, our holdings span history and the globe, and offer boundless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Students, faculty, and visitors are invited to examine manuscripts, printed works, artists' books, photographs, maps, and other materials in the protected environment of the Special Collections reading room.  Our digital collections are available on the web.

We believe that the histories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are essential. We acknowledge that University of Washington Special Collections contributes to an institutional legacy of collecting bias, acquiring harmful collections, and using offensive language to describe our resources. We also acknowledge structural issues with public services and personnel that perpetuate systemic discrimination and cultural bias. We are actively working to address this legacy.

We are committed to combating institutionalized racism by supporting the preservation of the histories of underrepresented communities at UW and in the Pacific Northwest. We commit to examine our own practices continually and share our progress on this work. We endeavor to ensure that these histories are appropriately represented and cared for in Special Collections. (Statement updated: 20 July 2021)


We welcome volunteers and interns to assist us in our work. If you are interested in learning more about opportunities available in Special Collections please fill out the form below and we will be in contact.

Annual Report


Current Exhibit

The exhibit is available to be viewed from 10 AM - 12 PM and 1 PM - 4:45 PM Monday through Friday, with late hours from 6 PM - 7:45 PM on Wednesdays.


"The city is redundant: it repeats itself so that something will stick in the mind.

Memory is reduntant: it repeats signs so that the city can begin to exist."

-Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities


The Univeristy of Washington Libraries invits you to view our exhibit, Invisible Cities: The Prints of Giovanni Battista Piranesi and the Art of the Built Environment. In the exhibit, you will see a selection of the library's extensive collection of Piranesi prints accompanied by archival drawings and current student and faculty work in the College of Built Environments. We will be exploring themes of cultural memory and art in the depictions of inhabited spaces and invisible environments in the practice of recording, learning, and remembering. Come see this history unfold. #UWInvisibleCities





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