Open daily 10.00 to 17.45 Admission free Menu

Reading Room of the National Art Library.

The Reading Room of the National Art Library at the V&A.

The National Art Library is a major public reference library for the fine and decorative arts, and is the V&A's curatorial department for the art, craft and design of the book. Watch the lecture about the history of the NAL by Julius Bryant, Keeper of Word and Image dept.


The National Art Library is free to join for all members of the public, on display of current ID with proof of address e.g. driving licence, passport, student card, utility bill or national identity card. This can be done in person on your first visit or online in advance. Full details can be found under Registering for a reader ticket . Please also read our Conditions of use.

Opening times

Tuesday    10.00–17.30
Wednesday    10.00–17.30
Thursday    10.00–17.30
Friday    10.00–18.30
Saturday   10.00–17.30

Sunday and Monday   closed

Planned Closures for 2015

Closed from 17.30 Thursday 2nd April
Re-opening at 10.00 on Tuesday 7th April

May and Spring Bank Holidays
Closed from 18.30 Friday 1st May
Re-opening at 10.00 on Tuesday 5th May

Closed from 18.30 Friday 22nd May
Re-opening at 10.00 on Tuesday 26th May

Summer Bank Holiday & Annual stocktake
Closed from 17.30 Saturday 15th August
Re-opening at 10.00 on Tuesday 1st September

Christmas holiday
Closed from 17.30 Wednesday 23rd December
Re-opening at 10.00 on Tuesday 5th January 2016
EXCEPT for Wednesday 30th December when open 10.00-17.30

Cloakrooms and bags

Bags are not permitted in the Library. Please leave your bags in the cloakrooms at the Museum entrances. We supply clear plastic bags at the cloakrooms for you to transport essential materials, including laptops and cameras, to the Library. On leaving the Library, books and other papers are inspected by staff.

Using the National Art Library

  • On arrival, please sign the Visitors’ Book and choose a numbered seat token
  • You can use the Library’s free wifi service throughout the reading rooms
  • You will either need to Register on arrival, or upgrade your Temporary Reader number if you have registered in advance, before you can consult  collection items
  • All collection items must be consulted in the Library; readers cannot borrow items from the Library
  • Most of our items are held in store rather than on open access and need to be requested. We strongly recommend that readers order in advance of their visit using the Library Catalogue. Full details can be found under Requesting material. Collection from the stores is at set times during the day, and delivery times to the reading rooms will depend on where they are held and how busy the Library is.
  • Our Library Catalogue of the National Art Library’s holdings is freely available for searching by author, title, subject, genre, publisher or keyword
  • We provide access to a range of electronic resources including blbliographic and image databases, encyclopedias and full text journals, some of which can only be accessed in our reading rooms due to licensing restrictions
  • We provide Copying Services primarily for private study or non-commercial research; these comprise self-service book scanners, camera stands for use with your own camera, and a microform reader/printer. All copies can be saved in digital format to your own USB memory stick. We do not offer a hard copy printing facility in the Library.
  • Our Study Guides provide help on researching and range of subjects including artists, auction catalogues and the history of the V&A


  • The Library holds over 1 million items and our collections are growing all the time
  • Subjects covered by the Library include those central to the work of the V&A and its collections, including: prints, drawings, paintings and photographs; furniture and woodwork; textiles, dress and fashion; ceramics and glass; metalwork; sculpture; art and design of Asia; history of the art, craft and design of the book
  • We collect sale catalogues from major auction houses and exhibition catalogues from museums and galleries world-wide, with extensive historic collections
  • There are extensive holdings of 20th-century artists’ books and book art
  • We collect material in most Western-European and some Asian languages
  • A wide range of formats is collected from manuscript material to periodicals & magazines and electronic formats

Access and facilities for readers with disabilities

The following guide describes access arrangements and services and facilities for disabled visitors to the National Art Library, the Prints & Drawings Study Room and the Blythe House Reading Room, Olympia.

View and download Study Room Services for People with Disabilities (PDF file, 48.5 KB)

View and download Study Room Services for People with Disabilities - Large Print Version (PDF file, 51.4 KB)

How to Find us

The National Art Library is located on Level 3 of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  A Museum map is available at entrances or to download before of your visit.

Contact the National Art Library

Contact us online

Postal address:

National Art Library
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
SW7 2RL 

Shop online

Word & Image - Art Books and Design from the National Art Library (Hardback)

Word & Image - Art Books and Design from the National Art Library (Hardback)

This unique history brings together more than 150 spectacular objects from the National Art Library's collection of literature, prints, drawings and p…

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Game: The Definery

Luxury or Vulgar? Let The Definery help you decide what objects to own. Simply enter an object into The Definery, answer a series of questions about the object, and wait for its judgement.

Launch The Definery

Event - Print of the Month

Thu 01 January 2015–Wed 30 December 2015

DISPLAY: Sawney’s Defence Against the Beast, Whore, Pope and Devil. About 1779.

Book online