Spotlight on: The Royal Institution Library

library shown in the reflection of the fish eye mirror


On the first floor of our elegant Mayfair venue at the top of the Grand Staircase and looking out on to Albemarle street, is the Library. With booklined walls, busts and chandeliers the Library is a quintessentially period space designed to facilitate discussion and debate.

While it is currently a large booklined space perfect for receptions, presentations or filming it may surprise you to learn that the Library was once two separate reading rooms. However the wall was knocked through to create a temporary lecture space while the main auditorium was being constructed. Once the Theatre was completed in 1801, the Library was converted into one large room and fitted with bookshelves and a gallery along the South and East Walls. The gallery was subsequently removed and after Number 21 Albemarle Street was gifted to the RI by Ludwig Mond in 1892 doorways were created between the Library and the Georgian and Writing Rooms. The main bookshelves were kept and the library collection spreads throughout the building.

The circular mirror above the fireplace predates these modifications and can be seen illustrated in the fictional ‘Men of Science’ print from the 1860s. The mirror has remained in place since the Royal Institution commissioned it to hang above the Library fireplace and has never been removed even during the 2006 – 2008 renovation project! The circular mirror is a heritage piece in that it is convex, alluding to contemporary scientific work on camera lenses, and was commissioned by the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1802. The mirror is still in perfect condition and is an example of incredible craftsmanship, it is an object that is still difficult to make today. Even the carpet relates to the scientific work of the Royal Institution as if you looked closer the delicate swirling pattern is in fact a representation of Faraday’s lines of force experiment. This experiment was designed demonstrate the existence of an invisible magnetic field by using iron filings. There are also a range of busts including an exquisite bust of Mary Sommerville, the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society and a former Ri member, and a bust of Sir Humphry Davy made in 1812 by Ann Seymour Damer the leading female sculptor of the day. Now the Library’s busts, decorative features and range of books reflect its august past and the great minds who have spent time there.

The Library has hosted to a variety of clients including Stella McCartney, London College of Fashion, Whizz Kids for London Marathon, London Tech Week, Fortnum and Mason and many others. The Library is a versatile space that can be transformed for any event whether that’s a corporate away day or luxury private dinners. The Library is one of the Royal Institution’s licenced wedding spaces available for cosy intimate weddings in the heart of Mayfair. It is even possible to hire the Library as a filming venue.

It can be hired individually or in conjunction with the Writing Room and Georgian Room as a suite of interconnected spaces perfect for luxury and corporate events. The hire of the Library includes AV equipment as well as a discreet built-in screen allowing the space to host corporate events, meetings and presentations as well as being an ideal venue for receptions, weddings and private dinners. With its booklined walls, period features and prominent location, the Library at the Royal Institution venue is first choice for Central London private hire.

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The Library, adorned with period features, book-lined walls and flooded with natural daylight


women talking at party


Contact the Royal Institution's Venue Hire team today to discuss how we can