ROH Archive and Collections

ROH Collections is the historic archive of the Royal Opera House. It is the largest theatre archive still housed within its own theatre in the United Kingdom.

The collection represents the diverse history of the Royal Opera House, documenting the artistic and organisational history of the three theatres that have stood on our Covent Garden site since 1732.

It reflects the wide variety of art forms that have been seen here – from plays, musical entertainments and circuses in the 18th and 19th centuries, through pantomimes, social dancing and concerts, to the operas and ballets which are still performed today.

The collection is most comprehensive from 1946 onwards, when the theatre reopened after the end of World War II. It was at this point that The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House were established as resident companies. 

The ROH Collections team regularly acquires new materials which you can access both onsite and online. Students, theatre makers, family historians, academics, media professionals and numerous other researchers use the Collections regularly.

We also monitor the historic areas of our Grade I listed building and contribute to the exhibitions around the building. You can also find us at some events, sharing stories and special objects from the ROH’s history.

Explore ROH Collections

In our Collection you can find:

  • Historic administrative records
  • Performance photographs
  • Audio and visual recordings of productions
  • Costumes, wigs, accessories and props
  • Set and costume designs
  • Theatrical posters
  • Programmes and playbills dating back to the 18th century
  • Collections relating to significant individuals in the history of the Royal Opera House
  • Details of over 13,000 performances that have taken place at the Royal Opera House

Find more detailed information and digitised content in our online catalogue.

Explore our production details through our online database.

Read more about the exhibitions currently on display within the Royal Opera House

Contact Us

If you have questions about the ROH Collections or the history of the Royal Opera House please contact us. You may also be able to find what you are looking for on the ROH History page.

Not all of our historic archives and performances have been catalogued, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for, please contact us.

You can contact us by telephone, email or post. Our opening hours are 9.30am–5.30pm Monday to Friday.

ROH Collections
ROH Collections (Enquiries), Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD
ROH Collections (Enquiries)
Royal Opera House
Covent Garden
Image Licensing

If you would like to license Royal Opera House copyright images from the ROH Collections please contact our image licensing partner, ArenaPAL Image Library.

If your enquiry relates to volunteering or undertaking work experience with ROH Collections, please check the Work Experience webpages where opportunities will be advertised.

Visit ROH Collections

If you would like to do more detailed research, you can visit ROH Collections by appointment. Appointments are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 10am and 1pm or between 2pm and 5pm.

Please note that we are unable to offer research appointments from April 2024 until the end of the summer 2024, as we prepare and move a large part of the collection. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.

Before you visit, we ask you to:

  • contact us before you visit, so that we can advise on availability of material
  • fill in the Researcher Application Form we send
  • return completed forms to the address above
  • agree to abide by the regulations and current COVID safety measures of the ROH Collections

When you arrive, you must present photographic identification upon arrival at the ROH Collections. Acceptable ID includes a passport or driving licence. We do not accept reader’s tickets issued by the British Library or the National Archives as a form of identification.


The Royal Opera House Collections welcomes donations and bequests of material relating to the Royal Opera House and its resident companies to enhance our holdings. Please note we can only accept donations that fall within the scope of our Acquisition Policy. All donations will be cared for and preserved to archival standards and will be made available to researchers.

ROH Collections are generously supported by The Anthony and Elizabeth Mellows Charitable Trust.

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Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation, a charitable company limited by guarantee incorporated in England and Wales (Company number 480523) Charity Registered (Number 211775)