Library, Art and Archives

Discover nearly 2,000 years of plant knowledge in one of the most extensive botanical libraries in the world.

Paintings from the Illustrations and Artefacts Collection

Kew’s Library, Art and Archives collection spans 2,000 years of plant knowledge and discovery.

With information on the naming, classification and uses of plants, plant ecology, conservation, and the wild plants of the world, it's a treasure trove of plant stories. 

If you’re a researcher, a garden lover, or simply an avid reader, our collection offers plenty of resources on botanic gardens and herbaria worldwide, the history of gardening and garden design, and biographical materials on botanists and gardeners. The oldest item in the collection dates back to the 1370s, while our copies of ancient works of botany invite you to journey even further back in time.  

Highlights 

Explore the treasures of our collections 

As well as items on the history of Kew Gardens and Wakehurst, we hold original sources from many of the significant figures in botanical history, including Charles Darwin, Sir Joseph Hooker, Elsie Wakefield and Marianne North.  

We regularly acquire new publications for specialist and popular audiences, keeping our collection fresh and contemporary. Whether you’re seeking maps or expedition reports, ancient texts or new publications, there’s a world of plant knowledge to discover and study in our Reading Room today.  

Visiting the Library Reading Room  

Opening hours

Monday - Friday

10am to 4pm  

We may occasionally need to close attractions for maintenance or visitor safety: check for planned closures and visitor notices before you visit. 

Plan your visit  

Access to the Library Reading Room is free and open to the public. The Reading Room has a reference collection, an exhibition area and also book and journal displays.  

You are welcome to drop-in on the day if you wish to visit the Reading Room. For more formal research enquiries, or to consult specific items from within the collections, registration is required. 

Access Kew's Library Catalogue

Contact 

Please contact the LibraryArt or Archives teams if you would like to arrange a visit.  

Location  

For travel information to Kew Gardens, see our visitor information pages.  The Main Library is located in the Herbarium building off Kew Green to the right of Elizabeth Gate. The nearest public transport station is Kew Bridge (overland rail). There is very limited parking alongside Kew Green. 

For full details on visiting the Library, please download this short guide with all the information you need. 

 

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