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Date updated: 11/03/2024

What is a Mediatheque?

The term 'Mediatheque' was first used during the 1980s, when broadcast material (audio and video recordings) was finally recognised as an important cultural testimony, in the same way as archives. Today, there are numerous Mediatheque(s) across the UK and Western Europe. In the UK, for instance, the British Film Institute (BFI) has its own Mediatheque (based in London's Southbank) providing access to a series of film and TV collections spanning over nine decades.

Visitor using one of our Mediatheque terminals to view films
Visitor using one of our Mediatheque terminals to view films

Mediatheque at LMA

Inspired by these Mediatheque(s), we decided to develop a space that provides on demand access to our films but with added applications, including access to our extensive photographic series and varied collections of maps and plans.

While our image library - The London Picture Archive - has been available online for several years, we felt that it was important to provide a point of focus for researchers who want access to all of our sources on the visual history of the capital.


The Mediatheque space is divided into three defined sections:

The first of these sections allows the visitor (or group) an opportunity to enjoy a film on the big screen, using wireless headphones for added comfort and practicality.

The second opens up the digital image collections, film and sound archives for personal research via eight individual terminals. The terminals contain:

  • Archival documents - A selection of archive documents which can be viewed digitally
  • The London Picture Archive Researcher - Visitors can use this version of The London Picture Archive to perform searches across some of our visual material (prints, maps, photographs etc) including many items which are not rights cleared and therefore cannot be made available online in the web version of The London Picture Archive. It is available to onsite visitors to LMA as part of our commitment to provide digital surrogate access to material which minimises its handling and aids its long-term preservation. At its relaunch it provided access to a further 30,000 images, with more to come in the future
  • Exhibitions - An opportunity to see electronic versions of previous exhibitions held in our onsite display area
  • Films - This section contains those films available on our YouTube channel and others which are not rights cleared so cannot be made available online.
  • Magnifying the Metropolis - A platform on which you can view digitised maps from our collections and zoom into specific areas and move around using simple controls.
  • Oral History - This section showcases oral history projects, including interviews with two members of staff employed at Peabody Estates in London in the early to mid-twentieth century, part of the Peabody Trust archive, and interviews with six ex-mariners, part of the Black Experience Archives Trust (BEAT)'s work.

The third and final supports access to a range of large maps, each documenting the geographical landscape of London over six centuries. Included here are a range of facsimiles and the Alan Godfrey reprints of old Ordnance Survey (OS) maps for the Greater London area.

Reference material is also available, including a small library of books and a series of catalogue listings that detail which collections at LMA hold similar material.