Access – Somerset House - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Access – Somerset House

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Access – Somerset House

Access Statement

This access statement does not contain personal opinions as to The Courtauld’s suitability for those with access needs, but it does aim to accurately describe our premises, facilities and services that we offer to all existing and prospective, students, staff and visitors.

The Courtauld recognises the benefits of having a diverse community of staff and students, who value one another and the different contributions they can make to achieve The Courtauld’s mission which is to advance an understanding of art through access to world leading expertise and collections, exhibitions and debate.

The Courtauld is fully committed to being an equal opportunities employer and providing equality of opportunity for all staff, students, applicants and visitors.

The Courtauld’s aim is to create an open and supportive environment which is free from discrimination, and one which encourages all staff and students to participate fully in all of The Courtauld’s activities.

The Courtauld offers a diverse range of learning opportunities that suit individual needs and are designed to attract all sectors of society.

Courtauld Connects

The Courtauld Gallery, Courtauld Cafe and Courtauld Shop are closed until Spring 2021 while we undertake a major transformation project called Courtauld Connects.

This ambitious project will enable The Courtauld Gallery to significantly improve our visitor experience by putting accessibility at the heart of everything we do. Further information about the wider Courtauld Connects project can be found here


If you are an existing student, or are thinking about studying one of our academic courses and or attending one of our Public Programmes or Research Forum events and have a disability, medical condition, specific learning difference (e.g. dyslexia), sensory impairment, or mental health condition then the Academic and Student Services team is here to support existing and prospective students.  For information and advice please contact .

If you are interested in attending one of our Public Programme courses please contact

If you are interested in attending any of our Research Forum events please contact or call +44 (0) 20 3947 7658.

If you are interested in visiting our Library please refer here for Further Witt contact information or here for Further Conway contact information or here for Further Book Library information.

If you are calling any of the above departments, please call between 09:30 and 17:30 Monday to Friday.


Location and arrival

In light of the current situation with the Coronavirus in the UK, a number of our buildings have now closed.
This closure may be for a significant period of time, with any decision to reopen being based on national health advice. Further information

The offices and Conway and Witt Libraries remain in the East Wing of The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN.
How to find us


Opening Times

The Conway and Witt Libraries are open Monday to Friday from 13:00 to 17:30 (last admission 17:00).

The offices are generally staffed between 09:30 and 17:30 hours Monday to Friday.



For full details and maps of how to reach us please use Transport for London’s


If you intend to drive, we have one parking space for Blue Badge holders which must be booked in advance by telephoning Somerset House on +44 (0)20 7845 4600 (Monday –  Friday, 10.00–17.00, choose option 9) or by emailing

The nearest Underground Stations are:

Temple (0.2 miles)                  District and Circle Lines
Embankment (0.4 miles)        District, Circle, Bakerloo and Northern Lines
Charing Cross (0.6 miles)      Bakerloo and Northern Lines
Charing Cross is the nearest railway station.

The nearest bus stops (Bus Stops R and S) are located just a few yards away from the entrance on the Strand. The following buses stop at these bus stops:

1 – Tottenham Court Road to Canada Water
6 – From Willesden to Aldwych/Drury Lane
9 – From Hammersmith to Aldwych / Somerset House
11 – Fulham Broadway to Liverpool Street
15 – Aldwych / Somerset House to Blackwall
26 – Hackney Wick to Waterloo
59 – Telford Avenue to Euston
68 – Euston to West Norwood
76 – Tottenham to Waterloo
91 – Crouch End Broadway to Trafalgar Square
168 – Hampstead Heath to Old Kent Road
171 – Catford to Holborn
188 – North Greenwich to Russell Square
243 – Waterloo to Wood Green
341 – County Hall to Northumberland Park
521 – Waterloo to London Bridge
X68 – Russell Square to West Croydon (limited stops)

All buses are accessible to wheelchairs.


Entrance to Somerset House and The Courtauld Entrance

The Courtauld Gallery (currently closed) is located under the archway at The Strand Entrance of Somerset House. Facing the courtyard from the Strand, the entrance for offices and the Conway and Witt Libraries, is at the far end of the upper terrace on the left, adjacent to the Kings College London west entrance.

There are cobbles and steps located at this entrance. The main entrance has three steps then two single, manual (not electric) wooden doors into the reception. The doors are 1.35m in width 2.19m in height.  Please contact The Courtauld in advance of your visit, if you require ramp access.

The reception is staffed 24 hours Monday to Sunday. There is seating in the reception.

The reception desk is located on the right as you enter the building. The reception desk is 67cm high at its lowest point.

The space is naturally lit via two windows. Overhead lighting is also in place.

The floor surface is low pile carpet and even.

A wheelchair is available free of charge.

An access card is required to access the Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre or the Seminar Rooms. An access card is not required to access the Witt and Conway Libraries. Visitors may be issued with an access card at Reception.

The East Wing office building has six floors with lift access to all floors excluding the Basement. There are no automatic hold-opens on the reception doors throughout the building.



The lift serves all floors of the building, except the Basement. The dimensions of the lift are, 1.94cm high and 93 cm in width.

To locate the lift on the Lower Ground Floor, leave the reception via the internal door into the corridor, turn left and make your way along the corridor (approximately 18.77m). The floor surface of this corridor is low pile carpet with a slight ramp upwards towards the end of the corridor. Go through the door at the end of the corridor (not an automatic door) and immediately turn right. Go through another set of doors (not automatic) and the lift is on your right-hand side.

The lift has a voice announcement function and braille. Select the speaker button to talk to an operator if you have any difficulties. The lift cannot be used in the event of a fire alarm or activation.



Each floor of the building is also served by a main stairwell. To get to the stairs, leave the internal door from the reception area. Directly in front of you the stairwell leads down to the Witt and Conway Libraries. There is a handrail on the right-hand side as you go downwards. The floor of the stairs is vinyl with vinyl edge protection.

If you require stair access to other floors, turn right as you leave reception. The handrail is on the left-hand side going upwards.

The stairwell has a gentle, large-spiral design in an anti-clockwise direction going upwards from the Lower Ground Floor and clockwise going downwards from the Lower Ground Floor. There are 22 steps leading downwards from the Ground Floor to the Lower Ground Floor. There are 28 steps leading upwards from the Ground Floor to the Mezzanine Floor. There are 26 steps from the Mezzanine Floor to the First Floor. There are 21 steps from the First Floor to the Second Floor.



Toilets are located on every floor. Visitors with mobility impairments can use the lift. There is a unisex accessible toilet cubicle on the Lower Ground Floor adjacent to the lift.

The door handle is on the left had side and pulls towards you. The door is 60cm wide and 206cm high.

The toilet is 39cm high.

There are vertical rails on one side of the basin and toilet.

There is a horizontal rail on the side wall adjacent to the toilet.

There is an emergency alarm pull cord.

The lighting is automatic upon entry.

There is a lever tap on the sink.


Access to and within the Conway and Witt Libraries

The Libraries entrance is located on the Lower Ground Floor. The entrance to the book library is staffed at a service desk. There is seating on level access from the lift opposite the Book Library desk on the Lower Ground Floor.

The Libraries continue on the Basement floor which does not have step-free access and is not wheelchair or mobility scooter accessible.

  • The library offers one to one information literacy training sessions.
  • There is an ordering service available.
  • The library offers extended loans.
  • The library offers a postal loans service.
  • The library offers a book collecting service.
  • The library offers assistance with photocopying.
  • The library and IT Centre do have computers with accessible software.
  • The library does not have a supply of books on tape or disc.
  • The library does not have a supply of books in Braille.
  • The library does not have a supply of books in large print.
  • Some books and resource materials may be out of reach for wheelchair users. Our Library staff will be happy to assist you with retrieving any high-level items you may wish to review and or borrow.


Access to the Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre and Seminar Rooms

The width of the door to the Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre is 18.1m, height is 101cm.  The width of the door to Seminar Room 1 is 18.1m, height is 101cm.  The width of the door to Seminar Room 2 is 20.7m, the height is 93m.

In an Emergency

Many staff are trained in First Aid or can contact another member of staff who is. A list of nearby First Aiders, First Aid Boxes, and Fire Wardens is displayed in the Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre,

Should an ambulance be required, please ask a member of staff to call 999. Arrangements will need to be made by the Security team to allow access for the ambulance to the site.

In the event of an emergency evacuation, a fire alarm will sound throughout the building. All visitors and staff must evacuate the building by the nearest exit point.

During an emergency evacuation, the lift will not work and will proceed to travel and park at the Lower Ground Floor. Please approach a member of staff if you require assistance out of the building or to a refuge point.

Evacuation chairs are installed to assist wheelchair users in the case of an evacuation.


Contact Information

The Courtauld Gallery
The Courtauld Institute of Art
Somerset House
London WC2R 0RN

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 3947 7711
Grid Reference: TQ 30772 80771

For more information about Somerset House please go to

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