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Priceless items from The Royal Albert Hall’s (cap. 5,272) 152-year history have been housed safely together for the first time following a £1 million project that has resulted in the opening of a purpose-built archive facility.

The collection – which includes a trumpet from the venue’s opening ceremony, a programme designed by Pablo Picasso, and the ‘hammercloth’ still used for Royal visits – had been housed in four different, unsuitable locations within the building, and repeated flooding of its basement store was threatening the irreplaceable artefacts.

The Royal Albert Hall’s fire-proof, climate-controlled, dedicated archive space, which includes a reading room, is open to historians, researchers and members of the public by appointment. The Hall’s archivists will conduct tours. The archive tells the story of the venue from its inception and consists of tens of thousands of items, including ephemera from almost every performance held at the Hall.

James Ainscough, who joined the venue as CEO earlier this year said, “The archive contains priceless assets of national and international cultural significance, recording the history of the Hall and everyone who has appeared on its stage for over 150 years, and this project ensures the protection of these artefacts for future generations.

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“This famous building has been a crucible of debate, a place of cultural and social transformation, and a prism through which to see a changing Britain. No other venue on earth has played host to the Suffragettes, Albert Einstein and Muhammed Ali, as well as Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles and Adele. The archive brings these extraordinary events to life, allowing you to come closer to history.”

Among the many unique items within the collection are a model from the 1860s showing the proposed building, costumes from the 1930s production of Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s Hiawatha, and a ceremonial broom used during the Grand Sumo Tournament in 1991 – the first and only time the sport had been staged outside Japan during its 1,500-year history.

The team at the Royal Albert Hall, which features in the AAA Explores film series, has launched a ‘most wanted’ appeal in an effort to track down the 40 most notable items still missing from its collection. These include the silver trowel used in laying its first brick in November 1867, ephemera from Captain Scott’s 1910 presentation on his then-recent expedition to the North Pole, and a programme from Janis Joplin’s legendary 1969 show, her only ever solo headline performance in the UK.

The new archive space was created with the support of donors including the Charles Hayward Foundation, Royal Albert Hall America and the Thompson Family Charitable Trust.