Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy

Open until Tue 1 Sep 2015
Magna Carta detail with model of King John
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To mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta we are holding a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition - book now!

To mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta we are holding a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. Since 1215, Magna Carta has evolved from a political peace treaty to an international symbol of individual.

Foundation of democracy or rallying cry for modern rights? One of the world’s most famous documents, Magna Carta has inspired some of today’s fundamental liberties. Yet it started as a practical solution to a political crisis 800 years ago.

Since 1215, Magna Carta has evolved from a political agreement to an international symbol of freedom. Uncover the story of how its power has been used – and abused – from its genesis through to today’s popular culture, in the largest exhibition ever staged about this world-famous document.

Explore centuries of dramatic history, from King John, medieval battles, revolution, wars, empire and the struggle for the right to vote, right up to today’s satirical commentaries.

Treasures on display

Together, for this once-in-a-lifetime moment, are the iconic documents and artefacts that tell the story of Magna Carta: two of the four original 1215 Magna Carta documents, Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence and one of the original copies of the US Bill of Rights, both on display in the UK for the first time, together with stunning manuscripts, paintings, statues and royal relics. The US Loans are sponsored by law firm White & Case LLP.

Discover the history, and challenge the myth, of one of the world’s most famous documents.

The exhibition is sponsored by Linklaters. Using the Magna Carta viewer on the Linklaters website you can examine the document in detail, read it in English and Latin, and discover its key themes.

A free Children’s Audio Guide is available at the Box Office – supported by Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee


The exhibition is at the heart of a wider Magna Carta programme, with public events, a conference, a learning programme and an online legacy for Magna Carta in 2015 and beyond. British artist Cornelia Parker has been specially commissioned to create a new artwork, which will be unveiled at the British Library on 15 May 2015 and remain on display until 24 July.

Magna Carta learning programme

We are offering a programme of student workshops and teacher conferences to support the delivery of History at Key Stages 2-5 and Citizenship at Key Stages 3-5. We are also encouraging schools to participate in a project to debate students’ rights and responsibilities in the digital space.

For primary schools

For secondary schools and teachers

Magna Carta Introduced

To book a Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy curator-accredited talk and exhibition for your group contact or call +44 (0)20 7412 7580.

Exhibition sponsored by

Linklaters' logo 

US Loan Sponsors

White & Case logo

the show is a feast for anyone with an interest in medieval history or how the freedoms we cherish were devised and defended *****
Daily Telegraph
it's hard not to be left in awe at the British Library, where the documents that laid the foundations for 800 years of democracy are on display, alongside the papers that formed the United States of America as we know it. Humbling
Evening Standard
Magna Carta, it turns out, still packs a mighty emotional punch
The Guardian
Four years in the making, this exhibition is a huge success, encompassing 1,000 years of political and cultural history with a surprising and impressive array of items
History Today
the show courses through history. Again and again, it highlights moments when Magna Carta went beyond its medieval roots to galvanise people from America and India to demand greater control over their everyday lives
The New York Times


Name: Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy
Where: PACCAR Gallery
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Opening times and visitor information

* Includes a voluntary donation over the regular ticket price. You will be helping the Library to conserve and share its collection. If you are a UK tax-payer and ‘Gift Aid’ your donation, the Library can reclaim the tax you have paid.

Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
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Blog posts about Magna Carta

A Belated Holiday Gift from Us: a Giant List of Digitised Manuscript Hyperlinks!

14 January 2016

It's that time of year again, friends, and we're pleased to (belatedly) celebrate the holidays by giving you a magnificent gift. This gift is certainly worth the wait, though - a massive list of Digitised Manuscripts hyperlinks! We're mixing it...

Magna Carta Virtual Tour

29 August 2015

Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy has been the most successful exhibition ever staged by the British Library, with in excess of 100,000 visitors. But we are aware that many, many more will never be able to see it in person,...

British Museum Loans in Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy

26 August 2015

As the British Library's major exhibition Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy draws to a close — it's been an amazing 5 months — we'd like to take this opportunity to showcase some of the key British Museum loans in the...

Little Ado About Something Rather Significant: William Shakespeare and Magna Carta

23 August 2015

If you were writing a play about the reign of King John, what would be the one scene you could not dispense with? The sealing of Magna Carta at Runnymede, perhaps? Yet, this is exactly the scene that the nation’s...

More blog posts

Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy

Magna Carta exhibition paperback

Magna Carta exhibition book

The catalogue of the once-in-a-lifetime British Library exhibition


Magna Carta facsimile print

Magna Carta print

A facsimile of the Magna Carta damaged in the Ashburnham fire of 1731

from £17.50

Magna Carta bag

Magna Carta tote bag

Tote bag, with lettering in an illuminated script, made from light-weight cotton