Opening Times

Monday - Friday:

10.00am - 6.00pm

Saturday - Sunday: Closed

Closed Monday 30 August for the Bank Holiday

Please book your desk in advance

COVID regulations remain in place. Please read our FAQs before visiting the library

Click here for holiday closures


The Warburg Institute Library at Night


The library is open Monday - Friday, 10.00 - 6.00

Please book your desk in advance

COVID regulations remain in place after 19 July. Please see our COVID-19 and Visiting the Library FAQs for more information

The Warburg Institute Library holds a collection of international importance in the humanities. Its 360,000 volumes, available on open shelves, make it the largest collection in the world focused on Renaissance studies and the history of the classical tradition. It includes a large number of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century continental books and periodicals (especially German and Italian) unavailable elsewhere in the UK, as well as several thousand pre-1800 items.

The categories of Image, Word, Orientation and Action constitute the main divisions of the Warburg Institute Library and encapsulate its aim: to study the tenacity of symbols and images in European art and architecture (Image, 1st floor); the persistence of motifs and forms in Western languages and literatures (Word, 2nd floor); the gradual transition, in Western thought, from magical beliefs to religion, science and philosophy (Orientation, 3rd & 4th floor) and the survival and transformation of ancient patterns in social customs and political institutions (Action, 4th floor). A video guide is available.

Our Research Guides provide a practical in-depth guide to the Library’s collections.

Contact the Library

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7862 8935/6
Twitter: @Warburg_Library
Facebook: @WarburgLibrary



Principal areas of strength of the library's collection

Western post-classical art history

especially early Christian, Byzantine, Italian, Netherlandish and German art (covering architecture, sculpture and painting); iconography (religious and secular); survival of classical art (antiquities, inscriptions, numismatics, gems) and of themes from classical art (e.g., Hercules, Orpheus); art historical sources (guidebooks, inventories, artists’ letters); development of art history as a discipline; history of art collecting; applied arts.

The history of magic and science

especially astrology and astrological iconography; alchemy; prophecy and divinatory practices (e.g., dreams, comets, monsters, fortune-telling books, chess).

The history of religion

especially comparative studies (e.g. rituals, onomastics); the survival and later influence of ancient religious beliefs and cults (Manichaeism and Hermeticism), and their connections to Christianity and Judaism; the interrelations between Christianity, Judaism and Islam; Christian religion (patristics, hagiography, monasticism, preaching, Jesuits); Jewish mysticism, history and art; Western attitudes towards, and perception of, the Islamic world


(from antiquity to the present) and political history, especially of Italy and Germany (complementary to the holdings of the Institute of Historical Research).

The survival of ancient philosophy

and its influence on medieval, Renaissance and early modern thought, with sections of particular importance on Arabic philosophy of the Middle Ages, Spanish medieval philosophy (Ramon Lull) and Renaissance philosophy (especially Christian Neoplatonism, Giordano Bruno, Nicholas of Cusa).

Cultural history

especially the survival of ancient cultural practices and their influence on later history, with sections of particular importance on: history of utopian thought and of political advice books; medieval kingship; Renaissance political thought; history of festivals and of banqueting (including historic cookbooks); Roman law in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Rhetoric and poetics

Italian literature (from Dante to the seventeenth century); Renaissance humanism; the later influence of classical authors and forms (complementary to the holdings of the Institute of Classical Studies); the survival of classical themes (especially Alexander legend and Roman legend); mythological handbooks; emblem books; history of European universities and academies; cultural exchange (translation, travel, pilgrimage).