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

Flyer from the Roxy Club Covent Garden London 1977

Punk 1976-78

  • 25 May — 2 October 2016 *on now

Starting with the impact of the Sex Pistols in 1976, the exhibition explores punk’s early days in the capital and reveals how its remarkable influence spread across music, fashion, print and graphic styles nationwide. Showcasing a range of fanzines, flyers, recordings and record sleeves from the British Library’s collections alongside rare material from the archives held at Liverpool John Moores University, including items from England's Dreaming: The Jon Savage Archive, it celebrates the enduring influence of punk as a radical musical, artistic and political movement.

The exhibition contains adult content.

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+

Admission

Free

Website

http://bit.ly/24NUWiK

Vivien Leigh Shakespeare In Ten Acts

Shakespeare in Ten Acts

  • 25 May — 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 award-winning costumes from Twelfth Night starring Mark Rylance, as performed at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Shakespeare in Ten Acts showcases over 200 unique and rare items such as the only surviving literary manuscript in Shakespeare’s hand, the earliest printed edition of Hamlet from 1603 and Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full Price: £12, Senior 60+: £10, Student & Registered Unemployed: £5

Website

http://bit.ly/1WrTHEK

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.
Punk Pop Up Shop

Punk Pop-up Shop

  • 25 May — 2 October 2016 *on now

To coincide with the Punk 1976-78 exhibition, the latest Pop-up Shop in the British Library Entrance Hall will be open until 2 October 2016. It's packed with vinyl, t-shirts, prints, books and exclusive prints by legendary music photographer Sheila Rock. Have your picture taken in our photo booth and experience our 70s listening booth, kindly lent by the Mick Jones Rock & Roll Public Library.

You can also buy the punk range online.

The Library has an amazing collection of punk fanzines, flyers, recordings and record sleeves which you can see in the free exhibition.

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

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

http://bit.ly/23HFUso

Make a Treasure

Make a Treasure

  • 26 June 2016 2-3:30pm

Create decorative artworks using paper on fabric and learn how to mount them to exhibit at home. This is a wonderful opportunity to see how specialists keep the Library treasures safe for future generations. The workshop is run by paper and textile conservators Iwona Jurkiewicz and Liz Rose.

Suitable for ages 5+

Drop in places are limited to 40 people per session and allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Family events are generously supported by John Lyon’s Charity

Suitable for

  • 5-6
  • 7-10
  • 11-13
  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

http://bit.ly/1NMcTtK

Africa Writes

Africa Writes, Sex, Love and Poetry

  • 1 July 2016 6:30-8:30pm

With daring work that challenges hetero-normative depictions of love, guest poets and writers explore intimacy and romance without taboos or restrictions. Whether you're straight or queer, trans, black or white - if you're an adult and curious, this event is for you. With guest poets and writers Caleb Femi, Rachel Long, S A Smythe and Adam Lowe.

Part of Africa Writes, a vibrant programme of events showcasing the best new writing from across the continent and the Diaspora.

In association with the Royal African Society

Suitable for

  • 18+

Admission

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

Website

http://bit.ly/1TAYih7

Africa Writes

Africa Writes, Meet the Publishers

  • 1 July 2016 4-5:30pm

Would you like the opportunity to present your work to editors and literary agents for professional feedback? Join a panel of experts as they discuss what they look for when considering new work, share the do's and dont's of pitching and offer other insider tips.

Part of Africa Writes, a vibrant programme of events showcasing the best new writing from across the continent and the Diaspora.

In association with the Royal African Society

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

http://bit.ly/1TAYih7

Africa Writes

Africa Writes,Fresh Perspectives on African Literature

  • 1 July 2016 2-3:30pm

From PhD students, early career scholars and independent researchers, opening up fresh ideas and approaches to African literature. Chaired by Rebecca Jones.

Part of Africa Writes, a vibrant programme of events showcasing the best new writing from across the continent and the Diaspora.

In association with the Royal African Society

Suitable for

  • 18+

Website

http://bit.ly/1TAYih7

Africa Writes

Africa Writes, Africa in Translation: Memory and Remembrance

  • 1 July 2016 10am-1pm

This annual symposium explores the place of translation in the contested spaces of memory and remembering, and its impact on society

It looks into the meaning of ‘the African body’ across time and space, and into the role of literature in cross-cultural understanding, showcasing translation as an important part of contemporary African literary practice.

Part of Africa Writes, a vibrant programme of events showcasing the best new writing from across the continent and the Diaspora.

In association with the Royal African Society

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • 18+

Website

http://bit.ly/1TAYih7

Africa Writes

Africa Writes

  • 1 — 3 July 2016

Celebrating its fifth year, the weekend presents a vibrant programme of events showcasing the best new writing from across the continent and the Diaspora. Expect to be challenged, informed and entertained.

In association with the Royal African Society

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Some lecture are free check website for details

Website

http://bit.ly/1TAYih7

Africa Writes

On Being a Woman Writer: Nawal El Saadawi in Conversation

  • 2 July 2016 6:30-8pm

The internationally renowned writer, novelist, psychiatrist and fighter for women’s rights was born in 1931, in a village outside Cairo, and wrote her first novel at the age of 13. Her many books have been translated into over forty languages and include titles such as Woman at Point Zero and Women and Sex, which was banned in Egypt for almost two decades. She reflects on the question of gender and the challenges posed for women within traditional and religious societies.

Part of Africa Writes, a vibrant programme of events showcasing the best new writing from across the continent and the Diaspora.

In association with the Royal African Society

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

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

Website

http://bit.ly/1TAYih7

Africa Writes

Africa Writes, The Immigrant

  • 3 July 2016 5:30-7:30pm

Set in 2116, Oliver, a Brit seeking asylum in the African Union is in detention. Here he pleads his case to Usman, an African border official, who isn’t fond of immigrants. What ensues is a battle of words and stories neither is truly prepared for.

Part of Africa Writes, a vibrant programme of events showcasing the best new writing from across the continent and the Diaspora.

In association with the Royal African Society

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

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

Website

http://bit.ly/1TAYih7

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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