The Brunel Institute is one of the few academic archives in the world to offer “access on demand”. This means that anyone with an interest in maritime history, the ss Great Britain or Isambard Kingdom Brunel can view the collections.
Institute staff and volunteers are available to advise and guide visitors. Whether you are writing an academic paper or researching family members who travelled on the SS Great Britain, or would just like to see a letter or drawing in Brunel’s hand, the Institute has something to delight you.
Planning your visit
Access to the Brunel Institute is free of charge.
To view the collection (excluding Archive in Five or Conservation in Action) or to use the library you will need to bring a form of identification which is less than three months old and shows your current address. This could be a driving licence or utility bill (but not a mobile phone bill).
There is no need to book, but if you would like to see a particular object or section of the collections, please contact the Assistant Curator of Library and Collections in advance by phone on 0117 926 0680 or online here. We are currently undertaking exciting conservation work for our new national Brunel museum and some of our objects are currently offsite.
Spotlight on the archive
Unusual items from the collection are given special attention at regular ‘Archive in Five’ sessions. Curators choose objects that have special significance, relating perhaps to the time of year or topical events. These informal sessions are an ideal introduction to the collection and have even led to new donations being made. Archive in Five has been augmented with the ‘Conservation in Action’ Friday lunchtime events where staff and volunteers show visitors how they care for objects.
‘Taster tours’ also provide a fascinating glimpse into the collection. These ad hoc events are offered to those interested in seeing the research and archive that goes on behind the scenes at the SS Great Britain Trust.
A large part of the archive is also available online.