National Art Library at the VandA Museum

National Art Library at the VandA Museum
The National Art Library
Word & Image Department
Victoria and Albert Museum
South Kensington
Greater London




020 7942 2400


020 7942 2401

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The National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum is a major public reference library. Its strength lies in the range and depth of its holdings of documentary material
concerning the fine and decorative arts of many countries and periods. It is also the curatorial department for the art, craft and design of the book.

The National Art Library is accessible to the public as a reference library. All material must be consulted in one of the library's reading rooms. Before you can use the library you must register as a reader. This can be done on your first visit. The library is located within the V&A.

Venue Type:

Archive, Library, Museum

Opening hours

Open from Tuesday to Saturday 10.00 - 17.00, Wednesday 10.00 - 20.00
Special Collections material must be requested by 16.00
General Collection material must be requested by 16.30

Closed on Sundays and Mondays

Planned Closures:
Closed for Christmas from 17.00 on Friday 23 December 2005. Re-opening at 10.00 on Tuesday 3 January 2006

The Prints Collection is famous for encompassing both fine art and commercial production. It consists of about 500,000 objects, including prints from the Renaissance to the present day, printed designs for the decorative arts, topographical and portrait prints, caricatures and greeting cards, and ephemera and commercial graphics. It also contains the national collections of posters and of wallpapers. It represents all the main printmaking processes, through the prints themselves, and through its outstanding collection of printmaking tools and equipment. Major prints by international contemporary artists show current directions in printmaking - new media, new formats, and new cultural contexts.

The collections relating to the design of the book include the book as object, rare and early books, illustration and illumination, chapbooks, comics and children's literature, calligraphy, and manuscript letters. The V&A promotes illustration through the annual V&A Illustration Awards and related events. Key examples from the Prints collections are displayed in the Museum's galleries, while the other items can be seen in the Prints & Drawings Study Room, the National Art Library, and the Archive of Art & Design. The National Art Library is also a major reference library and one of the largest art libraries in Europe. It has holdings of over one million items.

Collection details

Archives, Decorative and Applied Art, Design, Literature, Social History

Key artists and exhibits

  • rare and early books
  • illustration and illumination
  • chapbooks
  • comics
  • children's literature
  • calligraphy
  • manuscript letters
  • national collections of posters and of wallpapers
  • prints from the Renaissance to the present day
  • printed designs for the decorative arts
  • topographical and portrait prints
  • caricatures
  • greeting cards
  • ephemera
  • commercial graphics