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Research Centre Visitor Regulations

The National Gallery Research Centre holds a wide range of research materials including books, periodicals, photographs and manuscripts. When using these materials, we ask that visitors observe the visitor regulations set out below.

Care and attention 

Particular care should be taken over rare books and original documents. Both staff and users have a responsibility to preserve these materials for future research.  


New visitors are required to register in advance of their visit. In doing so you agree to the visitor regulations and to comply with the requirements of current Data Protection legislation in relation to any personal data obtained from material:  

  • my research will not be used to support measures or decisions with respect to particular individuals. 
  • my research will not cause or be likely to cause substantial damage or distress to any person who is the subject of the data while he or she is alive or likely to be alive, assuming a life span of 100 years. 
  • I shall not make the results of my research available in any form that identifies any data subject without the consent in writing of the data subject or the data controller. 
  • I understand that I shall be responsible for compliance with Data Protection legislation in relation to any processing by me of any such personal data, and I undertake to dispose of this data in an appropriate manner when it is no longer required for my research. 

Registration lasts for three years, after which time you must re-register as a visitor if you wish to continue using the Centre.  

ID and proof of address

Visitors should show photo IDand proof of address on the day of their first visit to complete the registration process. Proof of address should be dated within the last 6 months. PDF’s and printouts of bills, etc. will be accepted.

Bags and coats

All bags and coats must be left outside the reading room in the lockers provided. Please note that the maximum bag size allowed in the building is 66cm x 43cm. Large bags, large umbrellas, selfie sticks and trolleys are not permitted in the Gallery.  

Bags may be searched for security reasons. 

Pre-ordered items

Items should be pre-ordered. Where possible, retrieval of further material is available until 3.00 p.m.

Handling instructions

Repeated and incorrect handling poses a significant and cumulative threat to the survival of original documents and published material. Please observe the handling instructions below to help us preserve our collections for future use. If you are unsure about anything, please ask a member of staff to assist.

  • Ensure that hands are clean and dry.
  • Your workspace should be clear and large enough to examine material safely.
  • Avoid excessive handling of items.
  • Take care when handling books and archives as they may contain unseen fastenings, folds, additional items or fragile pages.
  • Do not use sticky notes as page markers in books or files. Acid free paper slips are available.
  • Where a copy of an item is available you may be asked to consult that to protect the original from damage.
  • Book supports should be used for bound volumes.
  • Only the weights provided should be used to hold pages open.

Documents and Letters

  • Files should be consulted one at a time and the filing order of their content must be maintained.
  • Do not lean on documents.
  • Keep loose materials flat.
  • Do not remove staples or other fastenings from documents.
  • Seek advice if you wish to remove an item from its protective sleeve.


  • Do not touch the surface of the image. Gloves can be provided if necessary.
  • Do not remove a photograph from its protective sleeve.


Users may apply to take their own photographs of documents using either digital or traditional cameras subject to the National Gallery copyright agreement.  

  • Photography of archive materials must take place at the visitors’ table. 
  • No photography of images is permitted.  An in-house reprographics service is available. If in doubt, please consult a member of staff.  
  • Flash photography, film and video recording equipment and the use of tripods are not permitted.  The right is reserved to inspect photographic equipment. Please switch off camera sound functions and do not disturb other users. 
  • National Gallery copyright images created under the terms of this permit remain the copyright of the National Gallery. If you wish to make use of the copy for the purpose of publication (including use on a website), exhibition or broadcast, or any commercial purpose, you must seek written permission from the National Gallery. 

Laptops and tablets

Laptops and tablets may be used, but the use of any other equipment must be agreed in advance. 

Writing materials

Pens and erasers are not permitted. Only pencils may be used for writing, they are available for your use in the reading room.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones must be switched to silent, and telephone calls must not be made in the reading room except in an emergency.  

Eating and drinking

Food and drink are not permitted in the reading room. You may use the area by the lockers to drink bottled water.

Smoking, vaping and chewing gum are not permitted. Anyone believed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be allowed access to the reading room.

Emergency procedure

In the event of an emergency, instructions from staff must be followed.  

Non-adherence to regulations

Violence or abuse towards any member of gallery staff will not be tolerated.  

Infringement of the regulations may result in exclusion from the reading room.