Located near Olympia in west London, the Victoria and Albert Museum Archives comprise four units:
- the Archive of Art and Design
- the Beatrix Potter Collections
- the V&A Archive
- the V&A Theatre and Performance Archive
The Archive of Art and Design
The Archive of Art and Design (AAD) was established in 1978 to house the V&A's growing archival holdings.
It collects, conserves and makes available for research the archives of individuals, associations and companies involved in the art and design process. Particular emphasis is placed on records concerning 20th-century British design. For more information, see the Archive of Art and Design webpage.
The Beatrix Potter Collections
This major collection of material relating to Beatrix Potter has at its core the Linder Bequest. Received by the Museum in 1973, this laid the foundation for further acquisitions of individual items and groups of material. The original bequest includes correspondence, drawings, watercolours, photographs, literary MSS and other memorabilia. Natural history and landscape drawings outnumber ‘book pictures’. Also available for consultation at the archive are the 280 drawings and 40 early editions that comprise the separate Linder Collection, which remains the property of the Linder Trust. For more information, see the Beatrix Potter Collections webpage.
The V&A Archive
The V&A’s own institutional archives are also available for consultation. They provide a rich resource for the study of the history and influence of the Museum. Included in the archive are details of the acquisition and provenance of the Museum’s several million objects; its relations with major donors, collectors and lenders; its collecting policies and development; and the architectural history of the South Kensington site. Many departmental archives are also available, including those of the former Circulation department. Please note that although the archives are public records and are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the V&A in confidence, may be restricted under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. For more information, see the V&A Archive webpage.
The V&A Theatre and Performance Archives
The V&A's national Theatre and Performance Collections can be accessed in the Blythe House Archive & Library Reading Room from Tuesday to Friday each week.
Access to archives at Blythe House
Material from all sections of the archive is available for consultation in the Blythe House Reading Room. Access is by appointment only. Reader tickets are valid for use in the Blythe House Reading Room, the National Art Library and the Prints and Drawings Study Room. Anyone can apply for a reader ticket, free of charge, and they are valid for three years.
Registering in person
When you arrive at the Blythe House Reading Room you will need to:
- complete a PC-based application form
- provide personal identification and proof of address
- read and agree to abide by the V&A Study Room’s Conditions of Use
Registering online in advance of your visit
On the V&A website you should:
- read the V&A Study Room’s Conditions of Use
- go to the NAL Catalogue, click on the 'My Account' tab, then 'New User'
- fill in the online registration form
- make a note of your Temporary Reader Number and PIN
- remember to bring personal identification and proof of address to the Reading Room to complete your registration
Acceptable forms of identification and proof of address
To complete your registration you must provide personal identification and proof of address. If a single document provides both personal identification and proof of address then this is acceptable. Otherwise you will need to provide one form of documentation from each of the lists below.
Acceptable forms of personal identification (must include your photograph or signature):
- National Identity card
- Photo Driving Licence
- Student identity card
- Official identification card from recognised place of work (provided it includes a photograph or signature)
- Bank or credit card
- British Library ticket
Acceptable forms of proof of address (must include your name and address):
- Recent utility bill (within last 3 months)
- Council Tax Bill (valid for current year)
- State Pension Book
- Recent bank statement (within last 3 months)
Renewing your reader ticket
You can renew your Reader Ticket in two ways:
- complete a PC-based application form in person
- follow the instructions for Registering online in advance of your visit above
There is no need to renew old style tickets to the National Art Library or Museum Archives until these expire. They will remain valid for use in the relevant reading rooms.
How to replace a lost, stolen or damaged reader ticket
A lost, stolen or damaged reader ticket will be replaced free of charge. The repeated loss of reader tickets may result in the right of registration being withdrawn.
In order to make an appointment, please contact the relevant section of the Archive:
- Archive of Art and Design: tel: +44 (0)20 7603 7493 or contact us online
- Beatrix Potter Collections: tel: +44 (0)20 7602 0281 ext. 212 or contact us online
- V&A Archive: +44 (0)20 7602 5886 or contact us online
- Theatre and Performance Collections: +44 (0)20 7942 2698, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Access and facilities for visitors with disabilities
The following guide describes access arrangements and services and facilities for disabled visitors to the Blythe House Reading Room, Olympia and to the National Art Library and the Prints & Drawings Study Room at the V&A South Kensington.
Photocopying and photography
For reasons of preservation the photocopying of archival material is not allowed. Archives may be photographed for study purposes at the discretion of the archivist. For terms governing publication, commercial reproduction and copyright, please apply to the Museum's picture agency, V&A Images on tel. +44 (0)20 7942 2966, fax +44 (0)20 7942 2482 or e-mail email@example.com.
The Blythe House Reading Room, which serves the Archive of Art and Design, the V&A Archive, the V&A Theatre and Performance Collections and the Beatrix Potter Collections, is open Tuesday to Friday, from 10.00 to 16.30, by appointment only (Theatre & Performance Collections from 10.15).
Archive of Art and Design
Tel: +44 (0)20 7603 7493 or contact us online
Beatrix Potter Collections
Tel: +44 (0)20 7602 0281ext. 212, fax or contact us online
Tel: +44 (0)20 7602 5886 or contact us online
V&A Theatre and Performance Department Collections
Tel +44 (0)20 7942 2697, fax: +44 (0)20 7942 2697, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Blythe House Archive & Library Reading Room is located at:
23 Blythe Road
Nearby underground stations within 10-15 minutes walk are:
- Barons Court (District and Piccadilly lines)
- Hammersmith (District, Hammersmith and City and Piccadilly lines)
- Shepherd’s Bush (Central and Hammersmith and City lines)
- West Kensington (District line)
Buses 9, 10, 27, 28 and 391 go to Olympia.
For more information click the icon for the London Transport Journey Planner.
The public entrance to Blythe House is via a turnstile at the south east corner of the building (Gate A, between No 1 Blythe Road and the Post Office). Please use the intercom by the turnstile to inform reception of your arrival. The vehicle entry point must not be used by pedestrians.