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Olympex 2012: Collecting the Olympic Games

25 July – 9 September 2012

The International Olympic Committee and the British Library present this visually striking exhibition telling the fascinating story of the past and present of the Olympic Games through the medium of postage stamps and related memorabilia.

Free / Entrance Hall

Olympex 2012 offers a unique insight into the history, symbolism and iconography of the Olympic movement, from the first modern Games in 1896, to the celebration of the 1908 and 1948 Olympic Games in London, and on to London 2012. Reflecting the manner in which the Olympic spirit touches the individual spirit, the exhibition is drawn largely from the collections of private collectors. The interests and actions of these individual collectors give this display a unique character and demonstrate how each of us can become involved in curating the Olympic story.

Olympex 2012 includes some 2500 stamps and postal items and intriguing pieces of related Olympic memorabilia. Each stamp, postcard and letter on display tells a story. They do this through the subjectmatter featured on them and the design treatment applied to that subject. Understanding who sent them, and to whom, also gives very personal insights to historical events. Scratch the surface of a stamp or postcard and a story always emerges.

Society of Olympic Collectors cabin

Visit the Society of Olympic Collectors cabin: a meeting point for collectors or those interested in collecting.

Free / Piazza

  • Opportunities for visitors to take their own photographs with an Olympic Torch
  • Commemorative SmartStamps
  • 'Olympex' philatelic souvenirs
  • Sale of 1908 and 1948 books
  • Mailing point for souvenir covers (mail)
  • Souvenir cachet (rubber stamp) commemorating London 2012
  • Catalogues

Poem: 'Hedge Sparrows'

‘Hedge Sparrows’, by Dr Richard Price of the British Library, has been chosen as the poem to represent Great Britain at the Olympics.

You can read his poem here on the Scottish Poetry Library website

You can hear it read by actor Jim Broadbent on the BBC's website



London 1948 Publicity Poster - Shepherd's Bush Stadium London 1948 Publicity Poster - Discus Official London 2012 stamps London 2012 logo ribbon