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, Library, Gallery

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

Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy

  • 13 March — 1 September 2015 *on now

Marking the 800th anniversary of the granting of Magna Carta, we are holding a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition exploring the history and significance of this globally-recognised document. The exhibition is sponsored by Linklaters.

When granted by King John in 1215, Magna Carta was a practical solution to a political crisis, but in the centuries since it has become a potent symbol of liberty and the rule of law. This exhibition takes us on a journey from its medieval origins to the modern uses of Magna Carta.

The British Library, as the custodian of two original Magna Carta manuscripts, is drawing on its rich historical collections to bring to life a story that remains relevant today. Also on display is Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten text of the Declaration of Independence, an original copy of the US Bill of Rights, together with other key documents and artefacts.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

Full Price: £12.00; Under 18: Free

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/magna-carta--law-liberty-legacy

Cornelia Parker at work on the Magna Carta - An Embroidery

Cornelia Parker: Magna Carta (An Embroidery)

  • 15 May — 24 July 2015 *on now

Fabricated by many hands, from prisoners and lawyers to artists and barons, Magna Carta (An Embroidery) replicates in stitch the entire Wikipedia article on the Great Charter as it appeared on the document’s 799th anniversary in 2014.

‘This is a snapshot of where the debate is right now,’ says award-winning artist Cornelia Parker. ‘Echoing the communal activity that resulted in the Bayeux Tapestry, but on this occasion placing more emphasis on the word rather than the image, I wanted to create an artwork that is a contemporary interpretation of Magna Carta.’

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

FREE

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/cornelia-parker-magna-carta-an-embroidery

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.
Event at British Library: A Stitch in Time: A Day of Embroidery

A Stitch in Time: A Day of Embroidery

  • 6 June 2015 11am-5pm

Join us for a unique day celebrating all things needlework. Expect expert demonstrations and master-classes, hands-on workshops, talks and special events as well as a market place and even a sewing surgery. Aimed at all ages and abilities you’ll be sure of a great day discovering and exploring the world of stitch craft.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

FREE - £10

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/a-stitch-in-time-a-day-of-embroidery

Waterloo and its legacy 8 June at the British Library

Waterloo and its legacy

  • 8 June 2015 6:30-8pm

Shocking contemporaries and participants alike by the scale and carnage of the battle, Waterloo ended Napoleon’s imperial ambitions and helped to shape the political map of modern Europe. To commemorate the bicentenary of this momentous battle, leading academics and writers, in partnership with History Today, will discuss its legacy, from the forging of a British identity to the rise of a cult of Napoleon.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

£8/£6/£5

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/waterloo-and-its-legacy

Event at the British Library: Crossroads of Curiosity: The British Library meets Burning Man

Crossroads of Curiosity: The British Library meets Burning Man

  • 20 June 2015 7-11pm

On the eve of the summer solstice, we celebrate the unveiling of a major outdoor lightbox installation by artist David Normal.

Using imagery from the Library’s digitised collections, 'Crossroads of Curiosity' was originally exhibited at the 2014 Burning Man Festival in Nevada and now appears on the British Library Piazza.

The evening starts with talks by artist David Normal, Larry Harvey, founder of the Burning Man Festival and Viktor Wynd of the Museum of Curiosity. An outdoor launch party follows featuring the illumination of the installation, performances, readings, sounds, visuals and a bar.

Suitable for

  • 18+

Admission

£15/£12/£10

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/crossroads-of-curiosity-the-british-library-meets-burning-man

London and the Nation 11 July at the British Library

London and the Nation

  • 11 July 2015 9:30am-6pm

The relationship between London and the rest of the UK, so often the subject of divisive debate, is perhaps more topical – and more contentious – than ever. Yet the questions raised by this debate are both key to Britain's identity and vital to its future. With Zoe Williams, Danny Dorling, Tony Travers, Ben Rogers (Centre for London Think Tank), Iran Qureshi (expert on British Asian women) and Owen Jones.

This one-day conference is organised in conjunction with the Raphael History Centre.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

£10/£8/£7

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/london-and-the-nation

Shubbak at the British Library 25-26 July 2015

Shubbak

  • 25 — 26 July 2015 11am-4:30pm

Join us for a packed weekend of literature and storytelling with some of the finest writers from across the Arab world. The programme consists of a rich array of talks, readings and children’s workshops exploring the power of literature and the word. From poetry, fiction and graphic novels to new literary forms and performance, the Shubbak Literature Festival invites you to celebrate the depth and diversity of current Arab writing in the UK, Europe and across the Arab world.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

FREE - £26

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/shubbak

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

E-mail

Visitor Enquiries

visitor-services@bl.uk

Telephone

Visitor Services

020 7412 7332

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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