The National Archives

Front entrance of The National Archives
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The National Archives is the official archives and publisher for the UK Government, and for England and Wales. We work to bring together and secure the future of the public record, both digital and physical, for future generations.

The National Archives is open to all, offering a range of activities and spaces to enjoy, as well as our reading rooms for research. Many of our most popular records are also available online.

Twitter: @UKNatArchives
Facebook: The National Archives

Venue Type:

Archive, Museum, Heritage site

Opening hours

Tuesday 09:00 - 19:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 19:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00
Saturday 09:00 - 17:00

Closed Sunday and Monday

Admission charges

Free. Some events paid for.

Getting there

10 minutes walk from Kew Gardens underground station (District line)
15 minutes walk from Kew Bridge mainline station (South West trains)
R68 bus route

Archives of the British government covering over a thousand years of world history and all seven continents from Arctic explorers and Middle Eastern embassies to papal bulls and the photographic collections of Colonial administrations.

Collection details

Weapons and War, Trade and Commerce, Social History, Photography, Maritime, Law and Order, Archives

Key artists and exhibits

  • Domesday Book
  • Magna Carta
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Valor Ecclesiasticus
  • Victorian photographs
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Polaroid Camera

Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed

  • 4 April — 9 November 2019 *on now

Opening on 4 April 2019, exactly 70 years since the foundations of NATO were formed, The National Archives’ new exhibition ‘Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed’ will offer a fascinating insight into life in Britain during the turbulent Cold War era.

The immersive exhibition will recreate a government bunker and a 1980s living room, showing the impact of the Cold War on the government and on ordinary people’s lives. Visitors will see a range of archival material including George Orwell’s infamous list of suspected communist sympathisers, memos written by Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill and a plan of Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb’s fateful spy mission.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of high-profile events exploring the Cold War from a multitude of perspectives. Speakers will include Dame Stella Rimington, former Director General of MI5, who will discuss her extraordinary career in government and subsequent success as a writer.

Suitable for

  • Any age


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.
Drawing of woman with book

My Grandad: The Spy - Interactive Family Adventure

  • 28 May 2019 10am-4:30pm
  • 29 May 2019 10am-4pm
  • 30 May 2019 10am-6:30pm
  • 31 May 2019 10am-4pm
  • 1 June 2019 10am-4:30pm

Tanya is certain that her Grandad was a spy, but here at The National Archives she can’t find out the truth on her own. She needs your help! Find clues, break codes and keep undercover on this top secret mission. Join Tanya on her adventure to discover the facts about her Grandad’s hidden history.

Produced by BAFTA Award winning interactive theatre makers Coney, MY GRANDAD: THE SPY is an adventure for families (7+), made in response to The National Archives' exhibition Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed.

Suitable for

  • 7-10
  • Family friendly


Image of a battlefield and two cartoon soldier mice

Time Travel Club: D Day 75

  • 1 June 2019 10:30am-12pm

D Day is a significant event in the story of the Second World War. But what was it really like for those involved in the battle?

Using objects and original documents from The National Archives, Dr Mike Noble will take you on an exciting journey through the events of that day. Explore some of the stories of those involved, before creating your very own canvas collage inspired by the documents and the history of such an important event.

Suitable for

  • 7-10



If you live in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames and are a family on a low income, you are eligible to book free tickets at our family events. Please select the dropdown code AFCOFFER when booking


Old photograph of The National Archives

Architecture Tours of The National Archives

  • 1 June 2019 12-1pm, 1:30-2:30pm, 3-4pm
  • 2 June 2019 12-1pm, 1:30-2:30pm

The guided tour will lead you around our ‘brutalist bunker’, purpose built in 1977 to house records and researchers, and will demonstrate how the boundaries of the space has changed over the years. The tour will include the opportunity to visit our rooftop. Look out over the Thames and learn how the building’s construction acts as a boundary between our treasured collections and the constant threat of the elements.



A limited number of free tickets on each tour are available to architecture students. Proof of ID required.


Drawing of knights on horseback

William Marshal and Simon De Montfort

  • 4 June 2019 7:30-9pm

2019 marks the 800th anniversary of the death of William Marshal, regent of England for the child-king Henry III and perhaps medieval Europe’s greatest knight. He famously led the successful campaign to preserve the throne of Henry III after King John’s barons rebelled.

A panel of three top medieval historians will examine Marshal’s legacy and look more broadly at chivalric, noble and knightly culture in England.




Cartoon mouse painting

Time Travel Tots

  • 5 June 2019 10:15-11:15am

We invite pre-schoolers and their carers to join our sensory drop-in craft sessions in the restaurant, to learn and play together.

Suitable for years 4 and under. Drop-in no booking required. Chidlren must be accompanied by an adult.

Suitable for

  • 0-4


Poster by Abram Games

'Maximum meaning, minimum means': the life and work of Abram Games

  • 7 June 2019 2-3pm

Abram Games was one of the 20th century’s most important graphic designers. His career spanned 60 years and during the Second World War, he was appointed ‘official war poster artist’. Games’ war posters and Festival of Britain designs - many of which are held in our collection – will be discussed and displayed in this talk by his daughter Naomi Games, as well as his personal philosophy, ‘maximum meaning, minimum means’, that gave his works their unique aesthetic.




A background of bright painted triangular patterns and a cartoon mouse painting

Time Travel Club: Abram Games and the art of airbrushing

  • 8 June 2019 10:30am-12:45pm

Take part in a morning of creativity inspired by the work of Abram Games, one of the 20th century's most notable graphic designers.

The workshop will be led by Naomi Games, his daughter, a designer and educator. You will get the chance to explore Games's original, well-known designs for inspiration. Then, create artwork and learn the technique of airbrushing to produce your own bold poster.

Suitable for

  • 7-10



If you live in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames and are a family on a low income, you are eligible to book free tickets at our family events. Please select the dropdown code AFCOFFER when booking.


Image of Professor Margaret MacMillan

The War That Ended Peace

  • 13 June 2019 7:30-9pm

Join renowned historian Professor Margaret MacMillan as she discusses her book The War That Ended Peace. Described as the definitive history of the political, cultural, military and personal forces which shaped Europe’s path to the First World War, MacMillan will explore this period in the run up to the centenary of the Armistice.




Yellow typewriter

Writing the Cold War: the works of John le Carré

  • 19 June 2019 7-10pm

The novels of John le Carré have always sought to represent a seamier side to the world of espionage and the supposedly ‘glamorous’ life of a spy. Here, Dr Sam Goodman explores what le Carré’s novels say about Britain and Britishness in a time of declining international authority, shifting global politics, and the shadow of the Cold War.

The talk will be followed by a free screening of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.




Dominic Sandbrook

The Iron Curtain and the Iron Lady

  • 21 June 2019 7:30-9pm

Margaret Thatcher prided herself on her reputation as the Iron Lady, a nickname given to her by the Red Army newspaper. And throughout her political career, her role as a Cold War Warrior, rallying the West in a crusade against international Communism, played a central part in her public image. In this enlightening and amusing talk, television presenter and author, Dominic Sandbrook, explores how the Cold War shaped Mrs Thatcher’s premiership.





Creative writing workshop: Protect and survive

  • 22 June 2019 1:30-4:30pm

Join us for a post-apocalyptic creative writing workshop, inspired by our exhibition Protect and Survive, touching upon themes ranging from Cold War bunkers, censorship and redaction. The workshop will be led by award-winning poet and creative writing tutor Suzannah Evans.




Image of Geoff Shearcroft and Wayne Hemingway

Crossing Boundaries with Geoff Shearcroft and Wayne Hemingway

  • 27 June 2019 7:30-8:30pm

Our civic campus in Kew is home to researchers, family historians, civil servants and over 1,000 years of national records. Opening up our public spaces to provide new ways to interact with our collections is part of our ambition.

In this Q&A, our design partners, Geoff Shearcroft AOC and Wayne Hemingway MBE, discuss how space and design can be used to reimagine the archive and shift the boundaries of our collection. As part of this talk, Geoff Shearcroft will present AOC’s masterplans for the overhaul of the public spaces inside our iconic brutalist landmark in South West London. Wayne Hemingway will talk about the challenge of rebranding The National Archives.



A limited number of free tickets are available to architecture students. Proof of ID required.


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.

Getting there

10 minutes walk from Kew Gardens underground station (District line)
15 minutes walk from Kew Bridge mainline station (South West trains)
R68 bus route

The National Archives

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020 8876 3444

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.