The Archive & Library’s Public Study Room will be closed for the festive period from Friday 21 December 2018 and will reopen to the public on Tuesday 8th January 2019

Heinz Archive and Library opening hours
Tuesday - Thursday, 10:00 - 17:00
by appointment only:

020 7321 6617 (Type Talk: 18001)
fax: 020 7306 0056
[email protected]

National Portrait Gallery
St Martin's Place
London WC2H 0HE

The National Portrait Gallery’s Library supports the Gallery’s research needs. The Library holds published materials including about 35,000 books and 70 periodicals to which the Gallery subscribes. Visitors may consult these resources in the Archive and Library Public Study Room, but must make a booking to do so.

Heinz Archive and Library is open by appointment to visitors who are interested in any aspect of British portraiture or in the history of the Gallery.


Books and Periodicals

The book collection supports research in British portraiture, history, and biography. Its strengths include:

  • works about (and by) artists and photographers represented in the Gallery Collection (and significant figurative artists generally)
  • monographs in the history of art and photography
  • exhibition catalogues
  • biographical reference materials.

A special collection includes approximately 600 books distinguished by their age, associative significance or scarcity. The Library also holds a complete set of Gallery publications, including catalogues of the Gallery’s Collections and exhibitions, and materials contributing to the understanding of British portraiture.

Books are arranged according to a subject-based classification scheme. The majority are on open shelves freely accessible to visitors working in the Public Study Room, with the remainder available for retrieval during the course of a research visit.

Published materials added to the Library since 1994, representing about 20% of the collection, can be found by searching an electronic catalogue. Older accessions are recorded in a card catalogue – conversion of these records to an electronic form is ongoing.

The periodical collection includes most titles vital to a study of art history. In several instances complete runs of periodicals are held.

Online Resources

The Library provides access within the Gallery to a small number of electronic resources, including the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Who’s Who, JSTOR, Early English Books Online, Burney Collection of 17th and 18th Century Newspapers, some electronic journals, and useful online resources linked through the electronic catalogue

Search the library catalogue

Booking and directions

The National Portrait Gallery’s Heinz Archive and Library is open by appointment to visitors who are interested in any aspect of British portraiture or in the history of the Gallery.

The Archive and Library is located in Orange Street, behind the Gallery’s main building. On arrival visitors should report to the Reception Desk and wait to be sent through to the Archive and Library Public Study Room. First time visitors will be asked to fill in an Access Agreement Form and show identification, such as a passport or driver's licence.

A self-service photocopier is available (20p each for b&w copies and 30p each for colour). Visitors may also take photographs of some material, but restrictions apply.

All facilities are wheelchair accessible. The Public Study Room is fitted with 2 induction loops, including 1 portable facility. A large print visitor's leaflet, magnifying sheets and torches are available on request. Visitors with any special requirements should notify Archive and Library staff in advance.

The nearest Underground stations are Leicester Square and Charing Cross. The nearest mainline station is Charing Cross. The nearest bus stops are at Trafalgar Square.

Download leaflet for visitors Download largeprint leaflet for visitors

The Heinz Archive & Library Public Study Room welcomes feedback from users to identify how we can improve the public services offered. Visitor survey forms are available for completion when visiting the Heinz Archive & Library and we also welcome feedback via email. We are especially interested in your thoughts about the information we provide in advance of your visit, the online services we offer, and your experience of using the Public Study Room. Where possible we will try and accommodate any suggestions received on how we can provide a better service.