Open House Festival

Wiener Holocaust Library


Barbara Weiss Architects, 2011

29 Russell Square, WC1B 5DP

Sensitive yet bold refurbishment of historic Grade II listed townhouse for The Wiener Library including dramatic first floor reading room, mezzanine and ground floor exhibition spaces.

Getting there


Goodge Street, Russell Square




59, 68, 168, 188




The Origins of the Library

Founded in 1933 by Alfred Wiener, the Wiener Library, the world’s oldest Holocaust memorial institution, was initially set up to collect and disseminate information about events happening in Nazi Germany.

Having moved to London in 1939, Dr Wiener’s collection proved invaluable, first to the British government and later, after the War, to the UN War crimes commission. Now a forum for research and scholarly debate, the Library is also known for gathering and compiling thousands of eyewitness accounts.

The Library’s current holdings number approximately 65,000 books and pamphlets, as well as periodicals, unpublished memoirs, photographs, press cuttings, and rare material obtained from all over the world.

First established in London in Manchester Square, the Library transferred in 1958 to a handsome central London residential building located at 4 Devonshire Street, where it remained until August 2011, when its lease expired. After half a century of intensive use, the once impressive home of the Library had become a liability to the safe preservation of its collection, and was no longer fit for purpose as a venue for readers and visiting students. The painstaking search for an appropriate new building took nearly six years, before an exceptional site was found and secured.

The Present Building

In 2010 the Library acquired from Birkbeck, University of London, a 99-year lease on a substantial but dilapidated listed Georgian building, located at 29 Russell Square, in the heart of Bloomsbury. This has now been carefully refurbished and converted by Barbara Weiss Architects, to accommodate the collection in elegant, accessible, and climate controlled conditions – part of a £5m project intended to prepare the Library to play a more prominent role in British and international academic life.

The move is very much seen by the Library as the foundation for ensuring the appropriate conditions for its future work in scholarship, public policy and education relating to the study of the Holocaust, antisemitism and comparative genocide.

Having started its existence as an information service to counteract Nazi propaganda, the Library is now aiming at helping new and existing audiences to engage fully with the collections; a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery fund is specifically destined for outreach programmes, such as the main exhibition in the ground floor reception.


Architect: Barbara Weiss Architects Ltd
Project manager and QS: Cluttons LLP
Structural Engineer: Bartons Engineers Ltd
Services Engineer: Peter Deer and Associates
Main Contractor: BW Interiors Ltd

For more info on this building visit AJ Buildings Library

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