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 online here


The Brunel Institute is open Tuesday to Friday by appointment for readers or researchers between 10.30am and 4.30pm. Please book in with us at least two weeks in advance, please fill in this form to get in touch about visiting. 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.

COVID-19 guidelines

As a researcher to the Brunel Institute at Brunel’s SS Great Britain, you should:

  • Pre-book your visit at least two weeks in advance, and not travel to our building without having received confirmation of your booking
  • Order archive material in advance, wherever possible
  • Cancel your visit if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms
  • Observe the safety measures put in place both
  • Practice social distancing while on the SS Great Britain site and in the Brunel Institute
  • Wear a face covering during your visit, unless you have a legitimate reason not to do so
  • Wear gloves when handling archive material – gloves will be provided
  • Please bring all materials you will need for your visit with you, such as pencils, paper etc. Staff will be unable to provide these for you.
  • Wash your hands before and after visiting the Brunel Institute, and use the hand sanitiser provided on site regularly throughout your visit
  • Notify us in advance, where possible, if you are delayed or unable to visit to enable us to offer appointments to other researchers

If you would like to view a particular object or section of the collections, please contact our Curator using the form below

Contact the Curator

Please use this box to ask our Curators a question!