96 Euston Road
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, Weapons and War
Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
- 3 October 2014 — 27 January 2015 *on now
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
Lines in the Ice: Seeking the Northwest Passage
- 14 November 2014 — 29 March 2015 *on now
Lines in the Ice examines why Europeans are drawn to explore the Arctic and, in particular, the fabled Northwest Passage. Arctic exploration has influenced our culture, changed the societies of indigenous peoples, and had a powerful effect on the making of the modern world.
The exhibition displays early European maps of the Arctic, Inuit accounts of the coming of the explorers, writings from the search for Franklin, early Arctic photography and much more. It also unearths the history of the North Pole’s most famous resident – Santa.
We uncover the beauty, drama and importance of the Arctic, from the distant past up to the present day.
- Any age
Scary Tales: Chris Priestley, Chris Riddell and Sally Gardner
- 17 January 2015 2:30-4pm
In this special event for young adults and older children, meet some of the most brilliant creators of Gothic and nightmarish stories as they talk to Julia Eccleshare, Children’s Book Editor for the Guardian.
Sally Gardner is a multi-award-winning writer whose books have sold more than 1.6 million copies in the UK alone. Sally’s novel Tinder is a modern gothic story based on the fairy tale The Tinderbox by Hans Christian Andersen.
Chris Priestley has had huge success with his Tales of Terror books and Tom Marlowe Adventures, and recently The Dead Men Stood Together and The Last of the Spirits. He has been hailed by The Times as 'a master of horror and suspense'.
Chris Riddell is the author of the Goth Girl series of books which follows the adventures of Ada Goth in her haunted house, Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Chris is also well known for his Ottoline books and illustrating the work of everyone from Neil Gaiman to Paul Stewart, and now Russell Brand.
- Any age
Trapped in the Ice, Frozen in Time
- 5 February 2015 6-8:30pm
An evening of performance and talks hosted by the British Library's Interactive Fiction Writer-in-Residence Rob Sherman. Exploring themes connected to his research into the infamous lost Franklin expedition of 1845-6 and creative responses to this historical event.
- Family friendly
Made in Chelsea: the music of Mozart's London
- 6 February 2015 6:30-8pm
Cliff Eisen and conductor Ian Page, artistic director of Classical Opera, discuss Mozart’s musical development during his 15-month stay in London, in particular surveying the operas and symphonies with which he became acquainted.
The talk incorporates live and recorded musical illustrations from works by Abel, Arne and JC Bach, with harpsichordist Steven Devine.
In partnership with Classical Opera.
- Any age
Full Price: £10.00, Senior 60+: £8.00, Student/Registered Unemployed/Under 18: £7.00
The Future of the Arctic
- 16 March 2015 6:30-8pm
Marking the United States’ 2015 role as Chair of the Arctic Council, this panel discussion will consider the future of one of the planet’s last great frontiers. Our panellists explore the political and environmental challenges and opportunities arising from increases in Arctic activity as sea ice diminishes and a new Arctic environment emerges.
Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library in collaboration with the United States Embassy, London
- Any age
£10/£8 (senior 60+) /£7
TalkScience: Scientists in extreme environments
- 25 March 2015 6-8pm
Scientists travel to the tops of mountains, the polar regions and even outer space in order to conduct experiments, make observations and set up instruments. What have we learned from doing science in extreme environments? Is what we gain worth the high financial, and sometimes human, cost? Does exploring these places also make science a vehicle through which geopolitics is played out? Do we need to explore for the sake of exploration?
Journalist and Antarctic veteran Alok Jha (ITV) will chair a discussion with Director of the British Antarctic Survey Professor Jane Francis, UCL anaesthetist and space medicine expert Dr Kevin Fong and University of Cambridge historian Dr Michael Bravo.
- Any age
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.