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!


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

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 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: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
Book now

Blog posts about Magna Carta

A library under lockdown

Saturday, July 17, 2021

How would you cope if your library was under lockdown? That is the situation Sir Robert Cotton (1571–1631) found himself in late in his life. We can all probably sympathise — most of us would never have anticipated the events...

Magna Carta quiz

Monday, June 15, 2020

15 June 2020 marks the 805th anniversary of the granting of Magna Carta by King John. The British Library holds two of the four surviving copies of one of the most famous documents in the world, with the others being...


Saturday, January 26, 2019

The British Library holds the world’s largest collection of Anglo-Saxon charters, wills and letters, over 200 of which have recently been added to our Digitised Manuscripts site. An impressive selection of these charters are also currently on display in our...

Cotton manuscripts quiz

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Last week we announced that the manuscript collection of Sir Robert Cotton, held at the British Library, has been added to the UNESCO Memory of the World UK Register. To celebrate, we've decided to test our readers' knowledge of the...

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