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The RIBA Collections

We care for one of the largest and most wide-ranging architectural collections in the world. Over four million items together represent a unique body of knowledge that is rich and global in scope. The RIBA Collections can be consulted through our two main sites below. You can also browse our digitised material through our online image library, RIBApix, or contact us with a collections query.

Download our introduction guide to the RIBA Collections.

Visit the RIBA Collections

The RIBA Collections can be consulted in-person through our two main locations:

  • The RIBA Architecture Study Rooms at the Victoria and Albert Museum are open on Wednesdays and Thursdays by appointment only. Please email drawingsandarchives@riba.org to arrange an appointment

  • The RIBA Library Reading Room at 66 Portland Place is open on the following days excluding Bank Holidays:
  • Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 11am to 5pm. Tuesdays 12pm to 7pm
  • There is no need to book ahead to access books and journals, but to book Photographs Collections appointments please email photo@riba.org. To keep updated on evolving library guidelines, please review the Information for Researchers (PDF) document
  • The library will be closed for planned stock checks and maintenance between 1 August and 9 September

Find RIBA Collections information and material online via:

Additional resources:

  • the V&A + RIBA Architecture Gallery (Room 128) at the Victoria and Albert Museum is open to the public during museum opening times
  • discover our programme of exhibitions at 66 Portland Place and where RIBA Collections items are being featured on loan around the world
  • please note that RIBA North on the Liverpool waterfront, including the galleries and shop, is currently closed to the public

Our items have been collected and catalogued over almost two centuries, with some items dating back to the 15th century. Some materials and descriptions contain outdated and offensive language or need further contextualising. We are working to address this on our Unpacking imperialism page, and to ensure that our collections and descriptions are appropriate to our audiences today. For questions or comments about this work, please contact us.

Our collections

Composition of Inigo Jones buildings

Drawings

The RIBA drawing collection includes almost one million architectural drawings  from sketches and preliminary designs to presentation and technical drawings.

The collection focuses on British architecture, with all significant architects from the Renaissance to the present day represented. Major groups include the work of Inigo Jones, Sir Christopher Wren, and several generations of the Wyatt, Pugin, Scott, and Waterhouse families. More recent collections include the surviving drawings of Edwin Lutyens, Ernö Goldfinger, and Denys Lasdun.

The Livre under construction

Photographs

The Robert Elwall Photographs Collection comprises around 1.5 million images from the earliest days of photography to the present day.

The collection includes photographic archives of individual architects and practices, travel and topographic images from across the world, press photographs from major architectural journals, and large bodies of work by some of the best known architectural photographers of the 20th century. The collection includes prints, negatives, slides, transparencies, photographically illustrated books and digital files.

Set of brass drawing instruments

Objects and artefacts

The RIBA Collections holds a wide range of objects and artefacts documenting the evolution of the architectural profession over the past four centuries.

This includes various pieces of drawing furniture and measuring instruments, offering insight into the changing environment of the architecture office. Smaller items include coins, architecture themed toys, and the RIBA silver collection. We also care for 120 portraits depicting former RIBA presidents, and have been collecting architectural medals since our foundation.

Menu card for dinner in honour of Professor Walter Gropius

Archives and Manuscripts

The archives and manuscripts collection includes the personal correspondence, journals, notebooks, administrative files, and unpublished texts of famous British architects.

The collection also features material related to individuals and societies who have helped shape architectural culture globally, including journalists, writers, historians, and educators. This also covers the RIBA institutional archive, which documents our history from the earliest founding documents to recent publications and ephemera.

Model of Delf Hill Middle School, Bradford

Architectural models

We care for almost 400 architectural models, representing five centuries of architectural history.

Most models in the collection were created by architects or their collaborators as a key part of their design process., including a wooden model from the 1690s of Easton Neston,  which is one of the earliest English architectural models still in existence. Later collections include models of some of the best-known buildings of the twentieth century, from private dwellings to large scale urban developments.

Photograph of books in the reading room

Books, rare volumes and periodicals

Our Library Reading Room holds books and journals related to every aspect of architectural practice and research.

With over 150,000 books in the collection, 5,000 rare volumes published between 1478 and 1840, and access to around 2,240 periodical titles, it is one of the leading resources in the country for the study of architecture and architectural history. Including manuals and pattern books, large scale volumes on archaeology, and detailed studies of some of the most famous buildings in the world.

Black and white photograph of a woman with glasses

Audio recordings

Our collection of audio recordings covers lectures, talks, and events with some of the most famous architects.

The RIBA Collections contains almost 1,000 audio recordings dating from the 1970s to the present day. They feature well known architects such as Zaha Hadid, Jane Drew, Ray Eames and Balkrishna Doshi. We are currently digitising these to make a growing number of them available online.

RIBA institutional archive

Our institutional archive documents the history of RIBA from its earliest foundational documents to recent publications and ephemera.

This is the largest grouping in our archives collection, and dates back to the founding of the Institute in 1834. Covering all aspects of RIBA’s work, such as exams, exhibitions and Nomination Papers, this is an indispensable resource for the study of the architectural profession and architectural education worldwide. 

Contact us

Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

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