Paul Nash
Postcard from Paul Nash to Eileen Agar ([5 January 1940])
Tate Archive

© Tate

Tate Archive collects and makes accessible a wealth of material primarily relating to the history of British art from 1900 to the present.

Located at Tate Britain, the collections comprise materials such as letters, diaries and financial records, sketches, photographs, exhibition histories, audio visual material (including conference recordings, oral histories, and Audio Arts issues) and increasingly, born-digital material – all of which relate to artists, art practice, and art world figures and organisations.

To consult the collections, you will just need to book an appointment to visit the Reading Rooms at Tate Britain (find out more about how to plan your visit).

Before you visit, you can search for materials of interest from the catalogued holdings by using the online catalogue, and you can browse a range of digitally available items on our website.

Tate Archive is free to use and open to everyone aged 18 or over. To make access arrangements for those aged under 18, or for general enquiries about accessing the catalogued collections, please contact reading.rooms@tate.org.uk or call +44 0)20 7887 8838.

Visit, Search, Browse

  • Venue

    Library & Archive Reading Rooms

    All members of the public can visit the Hyman Kreitman Reading Rooms to access Tate Library and Archive collections
  • Online catalogue

    You can search for items in Tate Archive by using the online catalogue
  • Digitised Items

    Browse more than 52,000 digitised items and pieces from Tate Archive

Tate Archive also runs a varied series of talks and events, and programmes displays of material in the Archive Gallery at Tate Britain, at at other Tate sites.

Additionally, we offer hosted visits for schools and groups, regularly contribute to academic and sector practice-sharing activities, and loan out material for national and international exhibitions and publications.

Enquiries about any of our activities can be sent to reading.rooms@tate.org.uk

Collection Highlights

In our collections

Founded in 1970, Tate Archive holds the world’s largest collection of archives relating to British Art.

‘British art’ is defined as art made in Britain, and not limited to artists born in the UK. For instance, Tate Archive is rich in holdings from European, American, and Commonwealth artists – as well as émigré artists - who were based in the UK for significant periods, and whose work is part of the history of British Art.

With over 900 individual archive collections, there’s a wealth of research material comprising personal written materials as well as institutional records.

In addition, Tate Archive houses materials that are international in scope. These include collections of more than 100,000 documentary photographs of artists, their studios and installation shots, 3,500 audio-visual accessions (including interviews with artists and copies of the British Library’s Artists’ Lives recordings and transcripts), 2,500 artist-designed posters, and 1500 single items - from a letter written by J. M. W. Turner to Christmas gifts by contemporary artists.

Do note that we continually acquire archives, so not all of our collections will have been catalogued. If you have an enquiry about an uncatalogued collection, please email reading.rooms@tate.org.uk.

Tate Public Records

Foyer of the 1987 Clore Gallery which houses the Turner collection © Richard Bryant

Foyer of the 1987 Clore Gallery which houses the Turner collection © Richard Bryant

Also located at Tate Britain, is our collection of  Public Records. These records  document the full range of Tate’s activities throughout its history, starting with the arrangements for the establishment of the gallery recorded in the handwritten Board of Trustees’ minutes dating from the 1890s.

Exhibition records date from the earliest in 1911 including a very small catalogue up to the 1980s together with original exhibition posters from 1937.

Records of the acquisition of art works for Tate's collection, together with the development of the Tate Britain site, including the Clore Gallery extension project are also held.

The records also contain a wealth of information about some of the more dramatic events in our history including, pictures of the rescue of art works during the 1928 Thames flood, and details about World War II bomb damage.

View the summary list of the Public Records collection.

Highlights from the Public Records

Records of Exhibition Posters

'TG 106 Tate Exhibition Posters' comprises original copies of Tate’s exhibition posters from 1937 onwards. These are available to view as digital surrogates in the Reading Rooms and copies of a number of the posters are available to buy as vintage poster prints from the Tate shop.

Records of Tate Buildings

Public Records series 'TG 14 Tate Buildings' includes records of development of Tate’s buildings from the 1926 Modern Foreign and Sargent Galleries, and 1937 Duveen Sculpture Galleries and The 1979 North East Quadrant exhibition galleries.

Records of Tate Exhibitions

'TG 92 Tate Exhibitions' document Tate’s exhibitions programme from the first exhibition, Alfred Stevens in 1911 up to the 1980s and is subject to annual accrual of records each year.

Records of Tate's Learning Activities

TG 27/1/4/3: Mark Dion ‘Tate Thames Dig’ sorting activity © Tate (Lisa Cole)

TG 27/1/4/3: Mark Dion Tate Thames Dig sorting activity. Image © Tate (Lisa Cole)

TG 27/1 Tate Modern Artist Educator records’ document the learning activities that were designed for use in workshops with schools, families, young people and community groups between 2000 and 2010. A selection of supporting image resources and session plans also exist along with a small collection of photographs.

Broadly categorised as ‘word / image find a link’, ‘handling’, and ‘making and doing’, the activities could be adapted for use with different age groups. Many of the activities were loosely game and image based such as ‘sorting’ games which helped learners engage with an artwork by categorising, comparing and discussing images.

The activities were considered by the artist educators as a fluid and evolving resource rather than a finished product, and this can be evidenced in some of the sample session plans in the collection; they provide a valuable insight to the working methods of the artist educators during the first ten years of learning at Tate Modern.

Explore

  • Photographs

    Discover how artists used photography as a creative medium, for experimental image-making, and when capturing personal memories
  • Journals

    Pore through the journals and diaries in which artists recorded their personal lives, as well as their approach to practice
  • Sketches

    Browse through the revealing preparatory sketches, roughs, and doodles made by artists
  • Archive
    19 items

    Three-dimensional works

    The works in this series are primarily composed of found objects. Agar, whose preferred working method was collage, often incorporated …