Accessing Kew's Library, Art and Archives

CLOSED Members of the public can visit the Reading Room to use reference books and journals.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Library, Art & Archives Reading Room is currently closed to visitors. Please note that requests for items which can be satisfied through digital scans are being processed but delivery times may be slower than normal. Requests for items for exhibition loan will not be processed until April 2021 at the earliest.

We are sorry for the inconvenience caused and encourage you to access our collections remotely - see below for further information

Access to Digitised Collections

While our Reading Room and Display spaces are closed you can access a range of Library, Art and Archives digital collections.

Collections on display

Collections can also be viewed in exhibitions in the UK and internationally

Members of the public are welcome to visit our Reading Room, this has a reference collection, plus book and journal displays, as well as an exhibition area.

You do not need an appointment and it is open weekdays only, 10am - 4pm. There is normally no admittance to the library collections themselves.  
To see specific items, you need to make an appointment by email, letter or fax to the relevant address below. On arrival, you will be asked to show photographic ID and proof of address.  
There are three types of collection and each has their own team to care for them and to contact for appointments. 
The Library contains information on the naming, classification and uses of plants, plant ecology and conservation, and wild plants of the world.  
The Illustrations and Artefact Collections are a world-renowned resource for botanical illustration forming an exceptional visual record for species of plants and fungi. 
The Archive Collection contains the official records of the RBG Kew and includes the personal papers of many botanists, gardeners and other individuals including Charles Darwin, Joseph Hooker and Marianne North. 
Find out how to get to Kew or the library at Wakehurst:

Directions on how to get to Kew

Directions on how to get to Wakehurst

How to access the Library


Search Kew’s Library Catalogue.

To arrange a visit

Our Reading Room has a reference collection, plus book and journal displays, as well as an exhibition area: this needs no appointment to visit (weekdays only, 10am-4pm). If you wish to see a range of library items, please make an appointment. 

Library, Art & Archives
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 
Surrey TW9 3AE 

Tel: +44 (0)20 8332 5414 
Fax: +44 (0)20 8332 5430 

To arrange a visit to Wakehurst

Reference material on seeds, plant physiology, seed storage and seed germination is held in the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) Library at Wakehurst in West Sussex. 
This Library will answer enquiries on seeds and is open to bona fide researchers: appointments must always be made in advance. 
Contact the MSB Library 
Librarian & Information Officer  
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew  
Haywards Heath  
West Sussex  
RH17 6TN

Tel: +44 (0)1444 894178  
Fax: +44 (0)1444 894110  

How to access Illustrations and Artefacts


We do not have a catalogue of the Art collection, instead please contact  

To arrange a visit 

If you wish to see items from our Illustrations & Artefacts collections, please give 48 hours’ notice. 
The Illustrations Team 
Library, Art & Archives 
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 
Surrey TW9 3AE 

Tel: +44 (0)20 8332 5429 
Fax: +44 (0)20 8332 5430 

How to access the Archives Collections


Search the online Archive Catalogue.

To arrange a visit

If you need to visit the Archives to consult original material, it is best to make an appointment so that we can locate and prepare items ahead of your arrival.  
The Archives 
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 
Surrey TW9 3AE 

Tel: +44 (0)20 8332 5417 
Fax: +44 (0)20 8332 5430 

Copying services

A copyright declaration form must be completed, which is kept by us. Visitors to the Reading Room can make their own copies with a smartphone or digital camera (no flash lighting).  

We can supply digital scans of most two-dimensional items in our collections, subject to the following restrictions: items covered by copyright legislation (no more than 5% from a book, no more than one article from a single issue of a periodical), if the item is too large or its format is inappropriate for scanning, is in poor condition or is too tightly bound.

We can also supply paper photocopies from Library collections (post-1801 only).

How to request copying services

Visitors to the library can complete a paper form from the information desk in the Reading Room.  
To request copies remotely, please email and we will send you a quote for the total cost, with a copyright form to complete and return before we make the copies. Upon receipt of payment, we will send you the copies via email or post. We accept cheques (in Pounds Sterling), or payment by card can be made securely online.


£8.00 for the first 10 images or sheets then 50 pence per additional image or sheet plus VAT (if applicable) (plus postage & packing if applicable). Copying for further reproduction in other media may be charged at a separate rate. 

External loans

Regrettably, we are not able to loan library items to other libraries.

Researcher taking specimen out of Herbarium cupboard

Collections Catalogues

Search our collections databases and catalogues online and discover other collections resources.