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020 7412 7332
Events Box Office
Visitor Information (fax)
020 7412 7340
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.
Archive, Library, Gallery
Mon, Wed-Fri 0930-1800
Sun and English Public Holidays 1100-1700
Closed: 24 - 28 December
Closing at 17.00 23 and 29 - 31 December
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.
World Cultures, Social History, Science and Technology, Religion, Personalities, Music, Literature, Decorative and Applied Art, Archives
Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour
- 19 June — 12 October 2014 *on now
Enduring War examines how people coped with life during the war: from moments of patriotic fervour to periods of anxious inactivity, shock and despair.
Through posters, poetry, books and pamphlets from the period, the exhibition considers attempts to boost morale at home and in the field, as well as presenting individual responses to the conflict, such as letters from Indian soldiers on the Western Front, schoolboys' descriptions of Zeppelin raids over London and examples of the black humour expressed in trench journals.
The exhibition also showcases the Library's work for Europeana 1914-1918, a major pan-European project to digitise more than 400,000 items from World War One, through an audiovisual art installation.
Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
- 3 October 2014 — 27 January 2015
In October 2014 the British Library will stage the UK’s most comprehensive show of Gothic literature yet. Marking 250 years since the genre burst into undead life with the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, Terror and Wonder will explore the enduring influence it has had, not just on literature, but film, fashion, music and art ever since.
The exhibition will explore how literary greats, such as Ann Radcliffe and Horace Walpole, broke conventions with 18th century gothic masterpieces, paving the way for some of the most imaginative minds of literature, from Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker to Mervyn Peake and Angela Carter.
- Any age
Adult Gift Aid* £11.00
Senior 60+ Gift Aid* £9.00
Senior 60+ £8.00
Student/Registered Unemployed/Disabled £5.00
Disabled Carer Free
Under 18 Free
Friend of the British Library, Patron Free
National Art Pass Adult £5.00
National Art Pass Senior 60+ £4.00
Play the Unbuilt Room, a unique performance game exploring memories of WW1
- 16 September — 7 October 2014 *on now
Written to accompany the invaluable digital resource created from the Europeana 1914-1918 project and the exhibition Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour at the Folio Society Gallery of the British Library, players experience objects from the collection in a new way, navigating poetry, patriotism and doomed youth in a verbal maze. Inspired by early text-adventure computer games and Alan Turing’s famous test, The Unbuilt Room combines theatre and choose-your-own-adventure stories to form a live game of interactive fiction. Small groups of players work together to explore an imagined landscape... without leaving their seats.
Please visit the Unbuilt Room website for more information.
- Family friendly
The Unbuilt Room: Europeana 1914-1919 (1)
- 23 September 2014 6-6:30pm, 6:30-7pm, 7-7:30pm
- 30 September 2014 6-6:30pm, 6:30-7pm, 7-7:30pm
- 7 October 2014 6-6:30pm, 6:30-7pm, 7-7:30pm
Designed to accompany the digital resource Europeana 1914-1918 and the exhibition Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour at the British Library, you will experience objects from the collection in a new way, navigating poetry, patriotism and doomed youth in a verbal maze. Combining theatre and choose-your-own-adventure stories to form a live game of interactive fiction, you will play in a small group to explore an imagined landscape... without leaving your seat.
Ida Barr's Great War Music Hall
- 30 September 2014 6:30-8pm
The British Music Hall was at its height as WW1 dawned. It's been unfairly maligned as agent of blind patriotism in the history books. This event redresses the balance, with both an academic insight into a more balanced view of the halls, and a recreation of some of the great songs of the period.
Join music hall star turned hip-hop artiste Ida Barr (the creation of former British Library Artist in Residence Christopher Green) and his friends in this evening of talks, performances and sing-a-longs.
£8, (£6 Over 60s) and £5
The PEN Pinter Prize 2014 - Salman Rushdie
- 9 October 2014 6:30-8pm
This year’s PEN Pinter Prize will be awarded to Salman Rushdie. A limited edition booklet his acceptance speech will be published by Faber and Faber and copies will be available for the audience. Ian McEwan will introduce the prize ceremony and actor Satya Bhabha will give a reading from Midnight’s Children.
- Any age
£8, (£6 Over 60s) and £5
Is English We Speaking: A Reading by Jamaica’s Poet Laureate
- 13 October 2014 6:30-8pm
One of the finest international contemporary poets, Mervyn Morris, recently appointed Poet Laureate of Jamaica, has also nurtured generations of outstanding Caribbean voices over decades. In London for a rare appearance, Mervyn will read the incisive poetry that characterises his work, which ranges from the personal to the political, from the local to the universal, and which has come to be seen as some of the best writing to emerge out of the Caribbean in modern times.
Mervyn will be joined by special guest poets, John Hegley and Mimi Khalvati.
£10, (£8 Over 60s) and £7
The Vampire Years: Dracula on Screen
- 17 October 2014 6:30-9:30pm
From Dracula (1958) through The Vampire Lovers and Lust for a Vampire to Dracula AD 1972, Hammer Films left a powerful imprint on the imaginations of generations, and with Dracula Untold now hitting cinemas, our love of on-screen vampires shows no sign of fading. A brilliant panel of Hammer experts, film-makers and actors take you through some unforgettable versions of Bram Stoker's 1897 creation.
This will be followed by a screening of Dracula (1958, 82 Minutes).
Price: £10, (£8 Over 60s) and £7
Nightwalkers: Tales of Zombies, Duppies and Soucouyants
- 24 October 2014 6:30-7:45pm
This thunderous exploration of the disturbing, comedic and gothic tales of the ghosts, duppies, jumbies and conjure folk that haunt the Caribbean and the Americas is not for the faint-hearted. Not recommended for under-14s.
In partnership with The Crick Crack Club
£8, (£6 Over 60s) and £5
LATE at the Library: The Sorting
- 31 October 2014 7:30-10:30pm
Good or evil? Sinner or saint? Angel or demon? Know your fate. Award winning theatre company, Les Enfants Terribles, joins us to create a funeral inspired experience featuring wonderfully macabre performances, live music, DJ’s, bar and a late night opening of the British Library's exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination.
Campaign! Make an Impact
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.