Southbank Centre Archive Studio

Southbank Centre's unique historical archive is a treasure trove of information and artefacts relating to the events and exhibitions held at Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery over the decades.

get involved

Meet archive staff and volunteers, find out what we're working on and browse key reference resources.

We are also open during Festivals and at other times for special events.


Opening hours: 10.30am-1pm and 2- 4.30pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

We're free to visit, you can find us in Royal Festival Hall, Level 2, Blue side.

The carefully collected and preserved collection can be accessed at the Archive Studio in Royal Festival Hall. Visitors are encouraged to get hands-on with the very stuff the 20th century’s finest art, architecture and performances were made of and to help us tell these incredible stories.

Key themes

Begun in the early 1990s as a labour of love by a member of our staff, the archive has grown to more than 100 cubic metres of documents, oral histories, programmes, photographs, posters, artworks and objects dating back to the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Much of this important collection is still to be fully explored but some of the key themes include:

  • 1951 Festival of Britain
  • 20th and 21st century design and architecture
  • 20th century artistic practice: innovation, excellence and inclusion
  • public participation: cultural, political, commercial and charitable events

Let the Light In

Southbank Centre is in the process of restoring Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery, to preserve these architectural treasures and improve them for our audiences. This project is made possible by a £4.9 million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund and will be completed in 2018.

Southbank Centre Archive Studio is at the heart of the project. This new temporary space, created by Jonathan Tuckey Design, makes our extensive archive accessible for the first time.

dig deeper

explore our history