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


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


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


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.


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.
A blonde woman smiling

European Literature Night: The Writers' Showcase

  • 11 May 2016 6:30-8:15pm

The centrepiece of the European Literature Festival, and the perfect chance to hear from some of the most inspiring and talented storytellers writing in Europe today.

Now in its 8th year, ELN brings together thrilling narratives that will take you to many corners of the continent, and far beyond. Hosted by broadcaster Rosie Goldsmith.

The discussion will feature English novelist Kate Mosse, whose 2005 novel Labyrinth has been translated into more than 37 languages; it will travel to the Turkish prison cells of Burhan Sönmez’s Istanbul, Istanbul ; to the many ordinary lives turned upside down in Dorthe Nors’ twisted and imaginative Copenhagen streets; to Slovenian writer Gabriela Babnik’s seductive tale of forbidden love amongst the dusty plains of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; via the deadpan Belgian humour of Peter Verhelst in his Gorilla-narrated fable about the story of human civilisation (and its collapse, of course); to the tormented relationship unfolding between widow and son on Dutch-writer Jaap Robben’s remote and stormy island (located somewhere between Scotland and Norway); finishing in the strange and comic novel that moves between Alek Popov’s Bulgaria and New York, where two brothers are beginning to doubt whether their long-deceased father is in fact actually dead.

Followed by a reception and book signings.

Supported by the British Council

Suitable for

  • Any age


Full Price: £12.00
Senior 60+: £10.00
Student: £8.00
Registered Unemployed: £8.00
Under 18: £8.00
Friend of the BL: £8.00

Call (0)1937 546546 or email


Late at the Library: The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company

  • 13 May 2016

The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company takes over the Library for a special evening hosted by their Artistic Director, the BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip hop artist Akala

Expect an intimate evening of music, poetry and modern day storytelling featuring an array of onstage talent, special guest appearances from Ayanna Witter-Johnson, the company’s wonderful Artist Associates including Anthony Anaxagorou and the THSC in-house live band performing a medley of songs inspired by scenes and themes from Shakespeare plays and sonnets.

The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company is a music theatre production company aimed at exploring the social, cultural and linguistic parallels between the works of William Shakespeare and modern day rappers. Their work has proved to be consistently popular with audiences of all ages around the world. They have toured the UK, Europe, South East Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and India and collaborated with a wide range of musicians, poets and rappers including Ed Sheeran, Bashy, Ms. Dynamite, TY, Zena Edwards, Kate Tempest, Polar Bear, Dizraeli and Angelina Roz.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Full Price: £15.00


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

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
Greater London




Customer services


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.