British Library

British Library information

Location
London , England
Address
96 Euston Rd
NW1
Getting there
Tube: King's Cross St Pancras
More information
www.bl.uk
Opening hours
galleries 9.30am-6pm Mon & Fri, 9.30am-5pm Sat, 9.30am-8pm Tue-Thu, 11am-5pm Sun
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Consisting of low-slung red-brick terraces and fronted by a large plaza featuring an oversized statue of Sir Isaac Newton, Colin St John Wilson’s British Library building is a love-it-or-hate-it affair (Prince Charles likened it to a secret-police academy). Completed in 1997, it's home to some of the greatest treasures of the written word, including the Codex Sinaiticus (the first complete text of the New Testament), Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks and a copy of the Magna Carta (1215).

The most precious manuscripts are held in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, including the stunningly illustrated Jain sacred texts, explorer Captain Scott's final diary, Shakespeare's First Folio (1623), Gutenberg's Bible of 1455, a copy of The Diamond Sutra in Chinese dating to 868 – the world's oldest (block-) printed book – as well as handwritten lyrics by the Beatles and Handel's Messiah .