National Art Library and Archive talks: each Monday from 15 January

December 5, 2023


Antiquités étrusques, grecques et romaines : tirées du cabinet de. M. Hamilton, envoyé extraordinaire et plenipotentiaire de. S.M. Britannique en cour de Naples. NAL Pressmark 64.G.48 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum


From 15 January, we’ll be holding free, open sessions at 11.30 and 14.00 every Monday (except bank holidays) in the National Art Library. A member of Library or Archives staff will introduce the history and purpose of the Library and talk about an item from our collections. There is no need to book, but simply arrive at the main entrance to the NAL on the First Floor just before the session begins. We anticipate running for around 20 minutes. At very busy times, we may have to control numbers but we’ll always try to reschedule a session if we have to turn anyone away.

We’re excited to announce this new way for all museum visitors to encounter the extraordinary collections of the National Art Library and the V&A’s Archives, and to experience the Victorian splendour of our Reading Rooms. The staff welcoming visitors will always be talking about an item which they have chosen themselves. The knowledge of our staff is something that was highlighted more than once by readers in our first ‘Meet the Librarians’ session, and we’re very keen to share our enthusiasm for some of the most beautiful, historic, puzzling or downright unusual items in our care. There’ll be ample opportunity to get up close to the item and ask questions.

For these informal sessions we won’t be advertising the item to feature in advance – we’re aiming for an air of mystery and discovery that we hope our visitors will share. We’re certainly all very intrigued to see what our colleagues will select. As well as being great champions of our holdings, we want to encourage all visitors to feel welcome in the Library space, and to enjoy the books, archives, manuscripts, pamphlets, magazines and more which we curate on behalf of the nation. The Library was founded on the principle of being available to everyone, and this is a small, happy way to celebrate that spirit.

We very much look forward to sharing the riches of the National Art Library and Archives with you.

3 comments so far, view or add yours


As a librarian from Fulham Palace this is a excellent idea.

Does one have to wear a mask still in these live sessions? If due to a overcrowded session for example? Thanks and good luck with the talks.

Excellent blog post well explained. Consise :)

I worked for a month in the library .. work experience as part of my degree from Liverpool Poly as was. Cataloguing the Hipsly-Cox circus collection. I used to sit high above in what I remember as being in a space near the ceiling. I also spent a few hours putting cards into the card catalogue and sitting on the high chair keeping an eye on readers.
Hope to come to one of these talks, be lovely to revisit the library.
I also spent lunchtimes playing table tennis with the room guards!

I wrote six books in the library in the 1970s-80s It is a wonderful facility and I am forever grateful for the experience of working there after fifty years in the art world Long May it survive !!!!!!!’

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