British Library

Photograph of exterior of British Library, bronze statue in foreground
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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.
William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

  • 17 January — 21 May 2020 *on now

Delve into the writing, life and legacy of one of Britain’s most famous poets in the 250th anniversary year of his birth.

See original drafts of Wordsworth’s verse, his notebooks, correspondence and more.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Japanese design of daffodils

Exquisite Patterns: Japanese Textile Design

  • 14 February — 17 May 2020 *on now

Practical designs produced by kimono merchants to lavish commercial publications: this display highlights the creativity and skill of artist, designer and publisher through a selection of superb images reproduced from the British Library’s collection of Japanese pattern books.


Hebrew manuscript

Hebrew Manuscripts

  • 20 March — 2 August 2020 *on now

Journey beyond the Bible to discover the history, culture and traditions of Jewish people from all corners of the world through the ages

Through rarely-seen treasures from as far back as the 10th century, this exhibition takes you from Europe and North Africa, through to the Middle East and China to explore the relationships between Jews and their neighbours in the communities that they lived in.

How much knowledge and culture was exchanged between these groups? Fascinating works displayed on music, science and philosophy by famous Jewish scholars suggest there was more than we might think.

Witness both the high points and the lows of these relationships. An Italian rabbi’s reply to Henry VIII, who sought advice on divorcing his first wife. A 13th-century Anglo-Jewish charter showing the passing of property between people of different faiths. And the signs of conflict as we encounter Christian censorship in Jewish texts.

Along the way, meet the sages versed in magic, Kabbalah and alchemy, and even learn a love potion or two, as we discover the power of the written word.


Southall Black Sisters banner

Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights

  • 24 April — 23 August 2020

From bodily autonomy and the right to education, to self-expression and protest, this new exhibition explores how feminist activism in the UK today has its roots in the complex history of women’s rights.

Be inspired by those who paved the way – from Cornelia Sorabji, the first woman to study law at Oxford University, to Hope Powell, the first British woman to gain the highest European football coaching licence. Meet lesser-known Suffragettes such as Sophia Duleep Singh and challengers of recent years such as the No More Page 3 campaign.

Take to the keyboard and the streets by exploring the work of contemporary activist groups working online and offline today. Get to grips with the causes they fight for, from ending period poverty and securing abortion rights to telling the stories of women and non-binary people of colour.

Marvel at the ingenuity, creativity and tenacity that fuels protest art. Organisations as diverse as direct action group Sisters Uncut, human rights advocates Southall Black Sisters, and the Women’s Liberation Movement showcase their interpretations on protest fashion and banners. Feel the emotion displayed by artists such as Khadija Saye and Jo Spence.

Recognising that inequality is unequally distributed depending on a myriad of different social constructs, the exhibition explores how formative experiences such as education, gender identity and sexuality have been controlled and manipulated in different ways for different groups. This exhibition celebrates those who have overcome these barriers.


Full Price: £15.00
Student: £7.50
Registered Unemployed: £7.50
Disabled: £7.50
National Art Pass Senior: £7.00
Young Person (18-25): £7.50
Senior (60+): £14.00
Child (12-17): £7.50
Child (0-11) : £0.00
National Art Pass: £7.50


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

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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.