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Events Box Office
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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.
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
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
Film Screening: The Silk Road of Pop
- 28 November 2014 6:30-8:30pm
An evening of music and film will begin with a live performance by the London Uyghur Ensemble followed by a screening of the award-winning documentary The Silk Road of Pop, a portrait of the explosive pop music scene among the Uyghur community in China's Xinjiang Province.
The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the film's directors.
On Gothic literature
- 3 December 2014 6:30-8pm
Three acclaimed writers, each with their own distinctive style, read from their works and discuss their place in the long history of the Gothic genre. Sarah Waters’s compelling novels – from Fingersmith and The Little Stranger to her latest, The Paying Guests, use mystery, and sometimes ghosts to weave tales of tension and surprise. Booker Prize-winner DBC Pierre has turned his hand to the style for the first time in Breakfast With the Borgias for Hammer Books; plus Kim Newman, an accomplished Gothic, horror and fantasy novelist who has recently published An English Ghost Story.
- Any age
Full £10/ Senior 60+ £8.00 / Student, Registered Unemployed, Under 18, Friend of the BL £7.00
An evening with Kate Mosse
- 12 December 2014 6:30-8pm
Kate Mosse, one of Britain’s most successful authors, talks to Natalie Haynes about her latest novel The Taxidermist’s Daughter and her long-standing fascination with all things gothic.
Set in 1912, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is a haunting and atmospheric thriller that recounts the dark and chilling events that befall a village on the flooded marshlands of the author’s native West Sussex. The practice of taxidermy plays an unexpected and sinister part in the novel, inspired by the Kate’s childhood visits to Walter Potter’s Museum of Curiosities – a celebrated collection of Victorian taxidermy – a place she found horrifying and compelling in equal measure.
- Any age
Full Price £10.00 / Senior 60+: £8.00 / Student, Registered Unemployed, Under 18,
Friend of the BL £7.00
Graham Swift reads from England and other Stories
- 15 December 2014 6:30-8pm
Graham Swift's return to the short-story form with the highly acclaimed England and other Stories has confirmed him as a master storyteller.
Swift is the author of nine novels, including Waterland and the Booker Prize-winning Last Orders. In his new collection he has created a richly-peopled vision of an England that is both a crucible of history and a maze of contemporary confusions.
For this special event at the British Library, which holds his archive, Graham Swift will read a complete story from his new collection, and talk about his new book and his writing in general with author and Eccles Writer-in-Residence at the British Library Erica Wagner.
- Any age
Full Price £8.00 / Senior 60+ £6.00 / Student, Registered Unemployed, Under 18,
Friend of the BL £5.00
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.