Royal Academy of Arts Library

Contact details

Website: E-mail: Tel: 020 7300 5737 (Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm)

Photo of

Photo: Benedict Johnson.

About the library

The RA Library holds a comprehensive collection of books and exhibition catalogues on British art, artists and architects, with a particular concentration on the life and practice of past and present Members of the Royal Academy and the history of the institution, its exhibitions and collections.

Holdings include complete runs of the Royal Academy annual (Summer) exhibition catalogues from 1769 to the present, and the loan exhibition catalogues from 1870 to now. The library also holds a special collection of illustrated books, which highlights the contribution of British artists to the illustration and design of the book. The library’s Historic Book collection, comprising some 12,000 volumes published before 1920, reflects the early teaching philosophy of the Academy Schools. It includes rare volumes of engravings reproducing masterpieces from classical to post-Renaissance European art and architecture, and original editions of virtually all the early treatises on art, anatomy, perspective, colour theory and connoisseurship.

The Historic Book Collection catalogue is available online.

Accessing materials

Can I see live document availability on Copac? No.

Can I obtain items via Inter Library Loan? Yes, subject to the Royal Academy of Art’s lending policy. The RA Library is not able to lend: Material published before 1921; Special collections items; Reference items; Whole issues of serials / periodicals / journals; Small catalogues (items of less than 20 pages); rare or fragile items.

You have to request an inter-library loan via a library of which you are a member. Talk to your own library staff about whether they think the document you need is likely to be available for loan and for advice on making an inter-library loan request.

Can I visit the library to view materials? Yes. The library is open by appointment Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. Please contact the Library to make an appointment: 020 7300 5737.

How do I find primary source material held at this institution? You can search the Royal Academy of Art’s archive collections here: online catalogue of library and archive materials.


The Royal Academy of Arts data on Copac

Example record from the Royal Academy of Arts Library:

Title: Le Vite De' Piu Eccellenti Pittori, Scultori, E Architettori Scritte Da M. Giorgio Vasari Pittore Et Architetto Aretino, Di Nuovo dal Medesimo Riviste Et Ampliate Con I Ritratti Loro Et con l'aggiunta delle Vite de' vivi, & de' morti Dall'anno 1550. infino al 1567. Prima, e Seconda Parte. Con le Tavole in ciascun volume, Delle cose piu Notabili, De' Ritratti, Delle vite degli Artefici, Et de i Luoghi dove sono l'opere loro. Con Licenza E Privilegio Di N.S. Pio V. Et Del Duca Di Fiorenza E Siena. / [By Vasari, Giorgio 1511 - 1574.]
  Published: In Fiorenza : Appresso i Giunti 1568

You can browse all the titles on Copac starting with the above title.