Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture

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The Bill Douglas Centre opened in 1997 as part of the University of Exeter's developing film studies programme. The museum is dedicated to the history of the moving image. The Centre also includes a research centre where items from the library and the reserve collections can be consulted. The founding collection was established by Scottish film-maker Bill Douglas, and was given to the University after his death in 1991.

Venue Type:

Museum, Library, Archive

Opening hours

Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm

Closed: Weekends, Bank Holidays, Dec 24-Jan 1, Good Friday-Thursday after Easter

Admission charges

Guided tours: £2.00 for adults, £1.00 for children

Additional info

Public access to the library is dependent on (free) registration as a member of the research centre.

Guided tours must be arranged in advance.

The Centre houses one of the largest collections of film- and cinema-related memorabilia in the UK, including Disney toys, posters, film stills, sheet music, postcards, campaign material and an extensive library. The collections also represent the wealth of Victorian optical entertainments, including shadow puppets, magic lanterns, panoramas, zoetropes and peepshows. Items not on display can be consulted in the research centre, which is open Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm.

Collection details

Archives, Film and Media, Literature, Performing Arts, Personalities, Photography, Social History

Key artists and exhibits

  • Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, cinema studios, Star Wars, blockbusters, Lumiere cinematographe, Alfred Hitchcock, Hollywood, silent cinema, magic lanterns, panoramas, optical toys
Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Film before film: a history of the moving image

FREE teacher's resource pack for exploring the history of cinema and the pre-cinematic moving image. Includes lesson plans, background material and images. Themes include: playing with light (shadows and shadow puppets); projection and the magic lantern; 19th-century animation; film stars (their creation and marketing). Use of the pack can be combined with a visit to the Bill Douglas Centre, including a tailor-made tour and activities. Suitable for upper KS2 and lower KS3.


  • Pippa Marriot
  • Hester Higton

How to obtain

Order forms available by e-mail from or by post from The Bill Douglas Centre, University of Exeter, The Old Library, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4PT

Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture
University of Exeter
Old Library Building
Prince of Wales Road




01392 264321


01392 263871

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.