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To visit, please book free admission tickets or request an education visit.

Please note the Miniature Railway is closed for maintenance.

Plan a research visit

Find out everything you need to know about Search Engine, our dedicated library and archive centre, before you visit.

General information

Before you visit

Visiting in person

Visitors to Search Engine can consult over 25,000 books and journals, as well as our world-class archive collection that includes around 1 million engineering drawings, 11,000 posters, 2,300 prints and drawings, 1,000 paintings, and 1,750,000 photographs.

Search Engine is open to all visitors to browse books and magazines and use computer access for online resources without booking, however if you do wish to reserve a library table in advance please contact us. If you wish to view our archive collections or rare books please provide 7 days’ notice to reserve a table.

Access and facilities

Search Engine is easily accessible to visitors via stairs or the lift in the corner of Great Hall, near the information point.

Reader registration and access to archives

To make a booking or to enquire about access to archival material, please email, giving at least 7 days' notice before your visit. Emails will be responded to as soon as possible on the days Search Engine is open. You will also need to book a museum admission ticket as well, so please ensure you do so in advance of your visit.

Access to archive material is via our supervised research rooms in Search Engine. On your first visit you'll need to bring one form of identification with you (e.g. a passport or driving licence) so we can register you as an archive user.

For archival items, you can request a total of nine items during your day’s visit. If you have ordered less than nine items it may be possible to order an additional three items during the day. This will depend on the format of item and staff availability.

Using the research room


We cannot currently offer photocopying. Please bring a camera with you if you wish to photograph any material instead.


We offer a free enquiry service to help you find out what’s in our collections and direct you towards resources that may help with your research. You can email us at—we respond to enquiries within 20 working days.

You can also look through our Research Help section, where you'll find lots of resources which may help with your research.

The Search Engine team can't carry out research for you, but if you are unable to visit, you may be interested in our Inreach service.

Inreach service

The Inreach Service is our team of expert research volunteers. They can carry out research on your behalf at a cost of £25 per half day. As well as the results of their search, you will receive a log of all the sources they consult for you and you may also receive copies of archival material. Their service is ideal for anyone that would find it difficult to visit the museum in person.

To request a quote, please download the request form below which you can return to us via email or post:

Inreach request form (Word)

Inreach request form (PDF)

If you have any other queries about our Inreach service, you can contact the team at:

Privacy information

Part of the Science Museum Group