With over two million photographs, maps, books, artworks, artefacts and documents the Royal Geographical Society collections represent a unique resource. From the achievements of sixteenth century mapmakers to the epic feats of Antarctic exploration, our material is geographically and historically rich.
The Picture Library provides an invaluable access point for researchers, publishers, and designers looking to find images illustrating the great stories of travel and exploration held in our vast collections.
Our representation of over forty professional and amateur photographers currently travelling to all corners of the globe brings our collection up-to-date.
The thousands of images now available to view online provide some highlights of our collections, although they represent only a fraction of the material we hold. We’re working hard to expand the online collection and are constantly adding images. Catalogue records covering the majority of our collections can now be accessed and searched online via the Society’s website.
We are always keen to encourage clients to visit us to discover for themselves what our collection has to offer. We can also carry out picture research on your behalf – please contact us to discuss your requirements.
Find out more about the Society and search it’s collections at www.rgs.org/collections
The achievements and experiences of nineteenth and early twentieth century travellers and geographers are translated through the photographs, watercolours, sketches, maps and artefacts they brought back to the Society. Our map collection is one of the largest private map collections in the world, and a valuable source of beautifully illustrated atlases. Many rare geographical and historical volumes are held in our vast library, offering infinite opportunities for finding original illustrative material.
Our historical photographic collection of over half a million prints, albums, negatives and lantern slides constitutes an unrivalled record of the world’s landscapes and people. When the Society was founded in 1830, the new science of photography was in its infancy. This was to have a massive impact on how explorers and travellers could pictorially record their experiences, and offered those at home an amazing insight into far-away lands. From the early days of photography, through the era of Empire and colonialism, and into the early twentieth century, we offer a rich source of imagery from a 'golden age’ of travel. Key moments of British exploration history, particularly in the Antarctic and Himalaya, are recorded within our photographic collection.
We represent over forty contemporary photographers, many of whom have a close association with the Society. They travel the world bringing us stunning images which provide a fascinating contrast to our historical photographs, often highlighting environmental and social change.