The British Library is one of the largest such institutions in the world, with an archive of over 150 million books, documents, drawings and recordings. It’s also a major tourist destination for London, with an exciting programme of temporary exhibitions drawing from this unparalleled collection.
Propaganda: Power and Persuasion kicks off later this month (May 17th) and promises to be one of the library’s most significant exhibitions of the summer. Looking at posters, films and other media from the 20th and 21st centuries and earlier, the show demonstrates how states have attempted to influence and persuade their citizens through a variety of different means – sometimes humorously and sometimes shockingly.
Exhibits include familiar material like British and US cartoons from the second world war alongside religious pamphlets from the middle ages and more modern Chinese posters and badges.
The exhibition has a truly international scope; visitors are invited to compare and contrast how regimes from around the world approach issues like fighting wars, tackling disease and promoting unity.
Tickets start at £9 for adults while students can enjoy a discounted fee of £5. Under-18s get in for free, though booking in advance is still recommended.
In addition to the exhibits available for viewing throughout opening hours, the Library is launching a programme of peripheral events that should appeal to students and enthusiasts. These include a discussion with Alastair Campbell, the controversial right-hand man to Tony Blair during his premiership, and a film screening of the major USSR filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s Strike.
Exhibition-goers can also enjoy a gig from the band Public Service Broadcasting, who combine “information films, archive propaganda and wartime broadcasts” with guitar-based rock and electronica.
These events are ticketed separately and places can be booked through the British Library’s website.
The library is easy to reach for those staying in hotels in London. Located right next to St Pancras International station, it’s served by a variety of underground trains.