British Library

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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, and one of the world's greatest libraries. Set up in 1973, with galleries formerly in the British Museum building, it moved to its spectacular flagship new home at St Pancras in Central London in 1997.

The John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library, PACCAR Gallery of Living Words and the Workshop of Words, Sound and Images offer permanent displays and a changing programme of special thematic exhibitions. We also have the best permanent display of stamps and philately in the world.

The King's Library, housed in a 17-metre glass-walled tower at the heart of the building, plus a number of major works of art, can be seen by all visitors. The Library also offers a wide programme of events, including talks, music and discussions, all developing themes and ideas associated with the collections.

Venue Type:

Archive, Gallery, Library

Opening hours

Mon - Thu 09:30-20:00
Fri 09:30 - 18:00
Sat 09:30 - 17:00
Sun 11:00 - 17:00

Closed: 24 - 28 December, 1 January

Admission charges

FREE ENTRY to the Library

Major exhibitions are charged
Permanent Treasures Gallery FREE

The British Library is custodian of the most important research collection in the world, spanning almost 3,000 years and every continent. This covers books, journals, manuscripts, stamps, patents, sound recordings, printed music and maps.

The John Ritblat Gallery is home to a permanent exhibition of over 200 of the Library's most significant items. These include the Codex Sinaiticus (c. 350), Magna Carta (1215), the Gutenberg Bible (1455), and Shakespeare's First Folio (1623) as well as religious, literary, historical and musical works in the handwriting of Leonardo da Vinci, Lord Nelson, Lewis Carroll, Handel, Sir Paul McCartney and many others.

The award-winning Turning the Pages was developed by the Library and uses high quality digitised images to simulate actually turning the pages of a precious book. The PACCAR Gallery is home to temporary exhibitions. The Workshop of Words, Sound and Images is an interactive gallery which traces the story of book production and sound recording.

Collection details

World Cultures, Social History, Science and Technology, Religion, Personalities, Music, Literature, Decorative and Applied Art, Archives, Weapons and War

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

The Philatelic Exhibition

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The Philatelic Exhibition of 80,000 items on the upper ground floor offers a unique opportunity to see many great rarities.

Currently on display are:
The Tapling Collection World to 1890; exhibited are countries M - Z on 2,400 pages (countries A - L are available to researchers by appointment)
The Mosely Collection of British Africa to 1935
The Bojanowicz Collection of Poland 1939 - 1946 stamps and postal history
The Model Collection of Germany 1945 - 1946 local provisional stamps
The Harrison Collection of die proofs 1911 -1937, engraved by J.A.C. Harrison
The Davies Collection of Libyan revenue stamps 1955 - 1969
The Fitz Gerald Collection of World Airmails to the 1930s (selected pages)
The Bailey Collection of Spanish Civil War stamps and postal history 1936 - 1939 (selected pages)
The Turner Collection of Great Britain and Ireland Railway Letter Stamps 1891 - 1940 (selected pages)
The Langmead Collection of Great Britain and Ireland Telegraph stamps, 1851 - 1881

An associated book, The British Library Treasures in Focus: Stamps, is available from the Shop.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/the-philatelic-exhibition

Treasures of the British Library

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery hosts more than 200 beautiful and fascinating items: magnificent hand-painted books from many faiths, maps and views, early printed books, literary, historical, scientific and musical works from over the centuries and around the world.

Half of the items now on display have not been seen by the public for many years.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/treasures-of-the-british-library

Shakespeare in Ten Acts

Shakespeare in Ten Acts

  • 15 April — 6 September 2016 *on now

Journey through 400 years of history – from the first productions of Hamlet and The Tempest – to understand how Shakespeare’s plays have been transformed for new generations of theatre-goers.

Imagine how audiences reacted to ground-breaking moments like the first stage appearance by a female actor in 1660 and the first British performance of Othello by a black actor in 1825.

Experience the glamour of Vivien Leigh’s Lady Macbeth costume, the surprising circus prop from Peter Brook’s radical 1970s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the stunning detail of the Globe’s award-winning costumes from Twelfth Night starring Mark Rylance.

Shakespeare in Ten Acts showcases over 200 unique and rare items such as the only surviving play-script in Shakespeare’s hand, an authentic Shakespeare signature, the earliest printed edition of Hamlet from 1603 and Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Get a taster of Discovering Literature:Shakespeare which is due to launch in spring 2016.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

Adult Gift Aid: £13.50 *
Adult: £12.00
Senior 60+ Gift Aid: £11.00 *
Senior 60+: £10.00
Student: £5.00
Registered Unemployed: £5.00
Disabled: £5.00
Disabled Carer: £0.00
Under 18: £0.00
Friend of the British Library: £0.00
National Art Pass Adult: £6.00
National Art Pass Senior 60+: £4.00

* Includes a voluntary donation over the regular ticket price. You will be helping the Library to conserve and share its collection. If you are a UK tax-payer and ‘Gift Aid’ your donation, the Library can reclaim the tax you have paid.

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/shakespeare-in-ten-acts

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Folio Academy Sessions

The Folio Academy Sessions, A Place Called Home

  • 19 May — 19 June 2016 *on now

Robert Frost wrote that ‘home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in’. What constitutes ‘home’ - who decides what it is, how we create it, who is welcome - has long been a source of fascination for writers and artists; but now, as our world shrinks and people move around it more freely and often less willingly, it has also become an urgent political matter. The multi-award-winning novelist and playwright, Caryl Phillips, is joined by three others who share his interest: Booker Prize-winner, Penelope Lively; poet, playwright and librettist, Glyn Maxwell; and writer and cultural critic Maya Jaggi.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Full Price: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student & Registered Unemployed: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/23K74yK

The Sex Pistols at the Nashville Rooms, London, 3 April 1976

Signifying Nothing? The Creative Revolution of Punk

  • 28 May 2016 11am-8:30pm

The musicians, designers, photographers and writers who spearheaded the punk movement

The attitude and style of punk inspired a complete upheaval in fashion, design, media, artistic expression, and music. In this packed day of conversations, meet some of those who both lead the new spirit, or used it to unleash their own creative freedom. Speakers at this event include Glen Matlock, John Robb, Jon Savage, Sheila Rock, PT Madden, Ray Stevenson, Ted Polhemus and John Wardle,

All for 40th-anniversary-of-punk price of £19.76


Doors open 10.30

Co-curated by Colin Fallows – an artist, curator and Professor of Sound and Visual Arts at Liverpool John Moores University.

Suitable for

  • 18+

Admission

£19.76

Website

http://bit.ly/220g03G

Romeo and Juliet puppet show

Romeo and Juliet: A Puppet Show

  • 1 June 2016 From 12pm

A Shakespearean classic for all the family

A botanist monk in the middle of his garden uses his beloved garden tools to recall the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet in this production without words. The Danish Shakespeare Theatre, HamletScenen present their exceptional puppetry take on this Shakespearean classic. It features actor and puppeteer Olaf Hoejgaard.

Suitable for ages 6+

Sponsored by the Embassy of Denmark

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full Price: £8, Senior 60+: £6, Student & Registered Unemployed: £5

Website

http://bit.ly/1rHIZgk

The Folio Academy Sessions

The Folio Academy Sessions, Utopia: The Impossible Dream?

  • 18 June 2016 1:45-3pm

Taking their cue from the Library’s Visions of Utopia display, the panel will explore the narrative power of the Utopian ideal, and whether it can act as an effective agent – in writing, philosophy and art – for social change. Paul Mason, the award-wining journalist and, most recently, author of PostCapitalism, is joined by novelist, historian and utopia-expert Richard Francis, and by two acclaimed writers whose work has offered up both utopian and dystopian perspectives on our world: novelist and Liberty trustee Nikita Lalwani, and novelist and memoirist Rupert Thomson.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • 18+

Admission

Full Price: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student & Registered Unemployed: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/23K74yK

Folio Academy Sessions

The Folio Academy Sessions, Not Even Past: Historical Narratives

  • 18 June 2016 3:30-4:45pm

‘The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.’ William Faulkner understood why so many of the stories we tell are rooted in history. Whether creating fiction or interpreting fact, is 'writing history' more about defining where we came from or understanding who we are now? Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring, and Jane Harris, author of The Observations, are both acclaimed, best-selling writers of historical fiction. Tom Holland is an award-winning historian of works including Rubicon and, most recently, Dynasty. Together they investigate the challenges and rewards of looking forwards by looking back.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Full Price: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student & Registered Unemployed: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/23K74yK

The Folio Academy Sessions

British Library, The Folio Academy Sessions, Shakespeare reimagined: Jeanette Winterson on the Gap of Time

  • 18 June 2016 5:45-7pm

Jeanette Winterson talks about her new book

‘All of us have talismanic texts that we have carried around and that carry us around. I have worked with The Winter’s Tale in many disguises for many years….And I love cover versions’. One of our most imaginative storytellers, Jeanette Winterson, will talk about and give an enhanced reading of her new book A Gap of Time, a retelling of Shakespeare’s play.

Please note: this event is not included in the day/weekend pass offer.

Doors open 17.15.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Full Price: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student & Registered Unemployed: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/23K74yK

Folio Academy Sessions

The Folio Academy Sessions

  • 18 — 19 June 2016

For the third year running, the Folio Prize Foundation and the British Library host some of the world’s finest writers and their guests

At a weekend devoted to the art of storytelling, over eight sessions each programmed by a different member of the Folio Prize Academy, the weekend will explore how stories have the power to transform us: how they can impact individuals and effect social change. Tickets can be purchased for individual events or day and weekend passes are available.

Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Day Passes £29 Full Price, Senior 60+ £18, Registered Unemployed, Students £16
Weekend Passes £40 Full Price, Senior 60+ £32, Registered Unemployed, Students £28

Website

http://bit.ly/23K74yK

The Folio Academy Sessions

The Folio Academy Sessions, All the World’s a Story

  • 18 June 2016 11:30am-12:45pm

Every day, each of us hears and constructs stories that help us make sense of the world. Narrative is not solely the preserve of the writer but the very foundation of understanding and communication, giving shape to our frequently shapeless lives. And some – for example barristers, politicians, songwriters, artists, journalists – depend on it every day in their work. Award-winning novelist Kevin Barry, whose most recent work, Beatlebone, won the Goldsmiths’ Prize, opens the weekend with a discussion of narrative in various fields: literature, law, music and art. He is joined by three guests who understand its power: human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC, singer and writer Tracey Thorn and sculptor and artist Cornelia Parker.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Full Price: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student & Registered Unemployed: £7.00

Website

http://bit.ly/23K74yK

Folio Academy Sessions

The Folio Academy Sessions, Narratives of Fear

  • 19 June 2016 3:15-4:30pm

Fear is, arguably, the dominant narrative register of our age. We encounter it every day in the news, in increasingly bellicose political rhetoric and, all too often, in our own lives. It’s a commonplace that, to counter it, we turn to stories for comfort and escape. But is it best to look away? Or is it better to face what scares us most by confronting it head on, not least through the art of storytelling? Evie Wyld, author of Miles Franklin Award-winning All The Birds, Singing, Andrew Michael Hurley, whose The Loney won the 2015 Costa First Novel Prize, and Max Porter, author of Grief is the Thing With Feathers discuss with Financial Times Comments Editor, Jonathan Derbyshire, their fascination with what lies in the darkness.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Full Price: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student & Registered Unemployed: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/23K74yK

Folio Academy Sessions

The Folio Academy Sessions, The Very Thought of It: Ideas and Literature

  • 19 June 2016 11:30am-12:45pm

Geoff Dyer, author of works including Jeff In Venice and Death in Varanasi, and Marina Warner, author of Stranger Magic, are two of the most original and distinctive writers, each with a fascination for ideas - not in the abstract, but as they affect lives and instigate change. Both have produced genre-defying works of fiction and non-fiction that explore the connections between imagination and reality, place and identity, story and myth. In this conversation with fellow novelist, academic, and campaigner for free expression, Lisa Appignanesi, they will discuss the future of a literature that dissects and thrives on ideas.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Full Price: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student & Registered Unemployed: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/23K74yK

Folio Academy Sessions

The Folio Academy Sessions, The Authenticity Paradox

  • 19 June 2016 5-6:15pm

Authenticity in storytelling is highly prized: as readers we like to feel we’re being given special access to the truth. But does this place an unfair burden on those writers who are also expected to speak on behalf of the cultural groups they’re seen to represent? Is there an implicit pressure for them to write in particular voices, on particular subjects and in particular genres? Examining the paradox of authenticity, the panel includes: author Catherine O’Flynn - whose What Was Lost won the Costa First Novel Prize - journalist, memoirist, and Times columnist Sathnam Sanghera, Trinidadian writer and performer Roger Robinson, and journalist and human rights development worker Afua Hirsch.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • 18+

Admission

Full Price: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student & Registered Unemployed: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/23K74yK

Jon Savage and Viv Albertine

Faber Social: Jon Savage and Viv Albertine on Punk

  • 14 July 2016 7-10:30pm

The British Library and Faber Social present a night of conversations on punk featuring two of the most important names associated with the scene, Viv Albertine (guitarist of The Slits and author of bestselling memoir Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys) and Jon Savage (author of England’s Dreaming, deemed the ultimate book on punk).

At this special event in the Entrance Hall, both sit down to offer their unique takes on what became one of the most influential cultural movements of modern times. Hosted by Kate Mossman, arts editor of the New Statesman.

Includes an out of hours viewing of the Punk ’1976 –78 exhibition plus music from Scratchy – tour DJ for the Clash – a bookstall and bar.

Punk 1976–78 is part of punk London, a year of events, gigs, films, talks and exhibits celebrating 40 years of punk heritage and influence in London

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Full Price: £15, Senior 60+: £12, Student & Registered Unemployed: £10

Website

http://bit.ly/24NXAoy

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.

Campaign! Make an Impact

http://www.bl.uk/campaign

This national cross-curricular programme uses history to inspire young people into active citizenship. Historical campaigns inspire and teach campaign skills, enabling children and young people to run their own campaigns about issues that affect them today. It’s based around a three step model on our website.
Students can explore campaign skills, and learn how campaigners have constructed their messages in creative ways. There is guidance on how to plan and carry out your campaign.

In the Teachers and Museums section you can find out more about how the model works and how your organisation can get involved.

British Library
96 Euston Road
London
Greater London
NW1 2DB
England

Website

www.bl.uk

Shop

www.bl.uk/shop

E-mail

Customer services

Customer-Services@bl.uk

Telephone

Customer Services

01937 546 546

Events Box Office

01937 546546

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.
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