About the Library and Archives

Lizards illustration

Part of a coloured lithograph, 'Lacertilia, lizards' by Ernst Haeckel from Kunstformen der Natur, 1899-1904


The Museum's Library and Archives holds one of the world's finest collections of natural history literature, artwork, photographs and manuscripts. The materials are stored across our two sites in South Kensington and Tring.

Every year we welcome up to 3,000 visitors, provide access to 5,000 items and answer 13,000 enquiries.   

Museum librarians, scientists and generous donors help to build and maintain our comprehensive Library collection, which complements and supports the specimen collection. The Library collection is primarily aimed at Museum scientists and postgraduate researchers, but the materials are available to anyone who wishes to use them.

The Museum Archives contain the institutional archive of the Natural History Museum, providing a unique resource that documents the history of our collections, collectors, staff and iconic buildings. The archives trace the life of the Museum from its beginnings as part of the British Museum to its opening in 1881 through to the present day.  


What we do

Find out more about the Library and Archives' activities.

Opening hours

  • South Kensington: Tuesday to Thursday 10.00–16.00
  • Tring: Monday to Thursday 9.30–15.30

Library and archive blog

Catch up with the latest on life behind the scenes in the Museum's Library and Archive 

This is a new blog platform.  Posts from June 2013 – March 2015 can be found here.

History of the Library and Archives

Discover the rich history of the Museum's Library and Archives.