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Visit the Brunel Institute

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.

Please note, whilst we do accept donations to the Brunel Institute, we request that you get in contact with us before sending anything. Contact our Curator in advance by phone on 0117 926 0680 or online here

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).

Identification is not required for sessions such as Archive in Five or Conservation in Action.


If you would like to  view a particular object or section of the collections, please contact our Curator in advance by phone on 0117 926 0680 or online here.

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. We also host special ‘Conservation in Action’ sessions where staff and volunteers show visitors how they care for objects - keep an eye on our What's On page for the next session.

‘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.