The library and archive store in the basement now houses nearly 3000 volumes of art reference books, periodicals and catalogues, as well as Sir William Holburne’s personal library of 1800 volumes.

What’s in it?
The Reference Collection generally covers fine and decorative art from the  Renaissance to the twentieth century, and the history and architecture of Bath.  There is a particularly fine collection of monographs on seventeenth-century painting of the Spanish, Netherlandish and Italian schools.

Sir William Holburne’s own library (the ‘Historic Collection’) is a typical nineteenth-century gentleman’s library, with novels, fine bindings, guidebooks and histories.
We also house the Huth Collection of nineteenth and early twentieth-century books on swordsmanship and combat sports. There is a complete run of catalogues of all past Holburne Museum exhibitions.

Who is it for?
The library is intended mainly for Museum staff and University students, but all researchers are welcome to use it if they unable to find specific books in a public library.

How can I use it?

Our reference library catalogue is hosted by the University of Bath. Before making your appointments, please search the Online Library Catalogue to find out whether we have the book you need.

Please complete and sign our Library Enquiry Form, including full details of any material you would like to view. Please send completed forms to

The historic library collection is not searchable through the online library catalogue, so please send details of what you are interested in viewing on the Library Enquiry Form.

Frontispiece Emblemi