In addition to over 60,000 objects on display in the Museum, the V&A also has a number of study rooms, both on and off-site, where it is possible to view over 2 million objects from the Reference Collections and to conduct private research. Find out more about our study rooms and how you can access them.
Our Study Rooms and the National Art Library are temporarily closed.
Study rooms at the V&A
- National Art Library
- Prints & Drawings Study Room
- RIBA Architecture Study Room
- Ceramics Study Room
Study rooms at Blythe House, Olympia, West London
- Clothworkers' Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion
- Archive & Library Study Room
National Art Library
The National Art Library (NAL), located on level 3, V&A, South Kensington is a major public reference library, open to all visitors. The collection covers the fine and decorative arts, design and art history and contains books, periodicals, auction sale catalogues, exhibition catalogues, electronic resources and other formats of material. Amongst the many treasures are artists' books, illustrated books, fine bindings and rare and unique manuscripts.
Prints & Drawings Study Room
Visitors can study and enjoy over 750,000 objects not on display in the galleries, including designs, fine art prints, watercolours, old master drawings, photographs, commercial graphics, greetings cards, playing cards, fashion plates, posters, wallpapers and much more!
We are currently cataloguing the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) collection, which was transferred to the V&A from the Science Museum Group in April 2018. As we progress, you will be able to see the records for individual objects appearing on Search the Collections.
Cataloguing the entire collection will take a few years and so we are sharing our working lists of the contents of each box of photographic prints and glass-based photographic material. These lists provide an overview of the collection contents and will help researchers in arranging to view objects.
Material is available for viewing unless it is on loan or being conserved. Some items are so light-sensitive and fragile that they can only be viewed under certain conditions and by special appointment.
Level 3, V&A, South Kensington
Opening arrangements 2020 – 21
The Prints & drawings Study Room is temporarily closed due to essential refurbishment work in our stores. We hope to see you again onsite in Spring 2021. In the meantime, our online enquiry service has resumed. We will answer online enquiries wherever possible, but please note that due to the refurbishment work some collections are currently inaccessible.
When we reopen it is recommended that you book an appointment and request materials in advance for either 10:00 – 13:30 or 14:00 – 17:00.
Find out about access to and facilities for people with disabilities in the Prints & Drawings Study Room and our other study rooms.
How to order material
When making an advanced booking, you can request up to five objects/boxes of material. Please supply the museum number and location of the object(s) you wish to see when booking your appointment. This information can be found in individual object records in Search the Collections and the Prints and Drawings online catalogue.
Please ring +44 (0)207 942 2563 or contact us online to arrange an appointment booking with us and confirm what you want to order from the store.
In order to accommodate walk-in visitors and further requests for material, we provide timed retrievals at: 11:15 and 14:30.
You can request up to three objects/boxes of material during these timed retrieval runs.
When we reopen, group visits are welcome but an appointment must be made at least three weeks in advance.
There are two daily sessions: 10:30-13.30 and 14.:30-17:00. Groups are limited to 12 individuals including the tutor. Groups exceeding 12 will be required to book more than one session. Groups cannot be split across a session.
Tel: +44 (0)207 942 2563
RIBA Architecture Study Room
The V&A and RIBA work in partnership to provide access to the world's most comprehensive architectural resource. The collection includes over 1 million drawings, 1.5 million photographs and 1.5 million archives, including architectural diaries, travel journals, letters, notebooks, essays, papers and office archives.
Find out more about the V&A + RIBA Collections
Level 3, V&A, South Kensington
Access is by appointment only.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7307 3708
Find out about access to and facilities for people with disabilities in the RIBA Architecture Study Room and our other study rooms.
Ceramics Study Room
The Ceramics Study Room allows you to view up close the objects on display in Rooms 136 to 139. Click on the links below to view objects that can be found in these galleries.
Level 6, V&A, South Kensington
Monday – Friday, 10.00 – 12.00 & 14.00 – 16.00
Access is by appointment only.
Tel: +44( 0)20 7942 2317 (Western ceramics)
Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 2322 (Asian ceramics)
Please note that appointments are subject to availability and the suitability of the objects to be shown in this manner.
Clothworkers' Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion
The Clothworkers' Centre is currently closed and will reopen at the new V&A East Storehouse in 2024. The Clothworkers' Centre provides access to the Museum's outstanding collection of textiles, fashion and costume. The collections include over 1040,000 objects, ranging from tiny fragments of Egyptian textiles to large tapestries and carpets, from accessories and underwear to intricately embroidered 18th-century court dresses.
The Archive & Library Study Room
The Archive & Library Study Room contains material related to four V&A archives:
- Archive of Art & Design - Contains the archives of individuals, associations and companies involved in any stage of the art and design process.
- V&A Archive - The institutional archives of the V&A and its predecessor organisations date from 1837 to the present day, providing a rich resource for the study of the history and influence of the Museum.
- Theatre & Performance Archive - Includes extensive archives from performing arts companies and other organisations, as well as from individuals such as performers, stage designers and private collectors.
- Beatrix Potter Collections - The V&A holds the world's largest collection of Beatrix Potter's drawings, watercolours, literary manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and related materials.
- Archive of Art & Design, V&A Archive and the Beatrix Potter Collections: Wednesday to Friday, 10.00 – 16.30
- Theatre & Performance Archive:
Wednesday to Friday, 10.15 – 16.30
Opening arrangements 2020-21
There is currently no access to the V&A's study collections, including the Archive & Library Study Room at Blythe House, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Enquiry services will resume from November 2020. There will be no access to Blythe House after March 2021, while we prepare for relocation to the new Collections and Research Centre in Stratford's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Special arrangements are being made for access to our institutional records in the V&A Archive.