Library, Art and Archives

Supporting Kew’s science, history and horticulture, as well as the academic research of visitors from around the world.

Painting of Passiflora alata

Head of department: Fiona Ainsworth 

The Library forms one of the most important botanical reference sources in the world. The holdings extend back to the 14th century and include most of the important works relating to botany ever published.

The Art collections include illustrations which act as herbarium type specimens as well as those documenting the visual characteristics of plants and fungi, plus special collections of work by some of the great botanical illustrators. All these collections are used to support Kew’s science and horticulture but are also frequently consulted by visitors from across the globe to support their research in a diverse range of academic disciplines.

The Archives collections comprise original source material on Kew’s history as well as the papers of botanists and plant collectors.

Department priorities 

  • Publishing the LAA 10-year strategy 

  • Further cataloguing of Archives and Art collections 

  • Developing digital image collections using the Digifolia resource 

  • Moving from paper to electronic modern records management using Centris 

  • Increasing and improving access to our collections using automated loans software and through further digitisation and contributing to the Biodiversity Heritage Library 

  • Increasing and improving access to electronic journals and bibliographic databases 


  • Hooker Correspondence Project logo

    Joseph Dalton Hooker Correspondence

    Digitising the personal and scientific correspondence of the 19th century botanist and explorer Joseph Hooker.

  • Miscellaneous Reports

    Enabling access through cataloguing and conservation to the Miscellaneous Reports Collection.