Discover the collections of the National Art Library using our new guide

National Art Library
February 21, 2019

Did you know that the V&A is home to the UK’s leading art and design research library? Many visitors to the Museum serendipitously discover the National Art Library as they move between the galleries on the third floor. (You can find us near the Jewellery gallery- as shown in the interactive map.) Established in 1837, the National Art Library actually predates the museum! Upon visiting for the first time, it would be easy to mistake the books on display in our Reading Rooms as making up the library’s entire collection. In fact, the library holds at least 850k books, journals and unpublished manuscripts from many countries and periods. The collections date back to the 13th century and we continue to collect new material weekly. We cover every single aspect of art and design as opposed to purely reflecting the strengths of the Museum itself (decorative and applied arts). The collections are stored throughout the Museum and items are retrieved by staff on request. Library items cannot be borrowed, however they can be read in our historic Reading Room or copied (copyright permitting) using our specialist book scanners which are free to use with a USB.

Our printed material includes artists’ books, auction catalogues, books, comics, exhibition catalogues, journals, manuscripts and much more.  Furthermore, the library provides access to an array of e-resources including e-books and journal article databases such as JSTOR. You can download and save files in the Library Reading room using our PCs or by connecting to our free wi-fi on your own device.

The library is open to everyone and membership is free. To help you get started, our new guide to the library catalogue has been designed to support the navigation of our rich collections.  Find the guide under the ‘Search the Catalogue’ section on our webpage at


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