British Library

Photograph of exterior of British Library, bronze statue in foreground
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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

Quentin Blake: The Roald Dahl Centenary Portraits

Quentin Blake: The Roald Dahl Centenary Portraits

  • 5 January — 21 May 2017 *on now

To mark this phizz-whizzing anniversary, Sir Quentin Blake has drawn special portraits of some of the most celebrated characters from Dahl’s stories including Matilda, Charlie Bucket and the BFG. Find out which filthsome couple declined to appear together and which character quietly disapproved of the whole business as the British Library unveils the Roald Dahl Portraits.

‘I hope visitors to the British Library will be happy to see this group of well-known characters treated as though they were real people - which, of course, to many of us they are.’ - Sir Quentin Blake

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

http://bit.ly/2i69zv9

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.
Will Self

On Being Archived: Will Self, Hanif Kureishi and Guests

  • 24 March 2017 7-8:30pm *on now

His archive includes drafts of novels, his cartoons, a full hard-drive, family documents and letters received from other writers. At this event he meets Hanif Kureishi, also archived at the Library, to explore the experience of passing on much of one’s life’s work to the national collection, where it is joining that of Harold Pinter, John Berger, J G Ballard, Joan Bakewell, and many others.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £12, Member: £12, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £8, Registered Unemployed: £8, Under 18: £8

Website

http://bit.ly/2hus64a

Iain Sinclair

Encore: The Phenomenon of the Second Novel

  • 28 March 2017 7-8:30pm

Some novelists hit a remarkable seam on their second outings, and among the second novels that have earned their place in history are The Mill on the Floss, Pride and Prejudice, The Master and Margarita, Fahrenheit 451 and Midnight’s Children.

The £10,000 Encore Award for the best second novel of the year was first awarded in 1990 and is sponsored by Lucy Astor. The award fills a niche in the catalogue of literary prizes by celebrating the achievement of outstanding second novels. Past recipients include RSL Fellows Colm Toíbín, Anne Enright, Ali Smith and most recently in 2015, Sunjeev Sahota for his book The Year of the Runaways which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

In a conversation chaired by literary journalist Alex Clark, one of this year’s judges, Nikita Lalwani and past winners Iain Sinclair and Evie Wyld speak about the pleasures and pitfalls of writing and reading fictional follow-ups.

The shortlist for the 2017 RSL Encore Award will be announced at this event.

In partnership with The Royal Society of Literature

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7, Under 18: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/2hYCWTd

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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