For questions that are not included here, please email email@example.com, call (212) 708-9433, or fax (212) 333-1122.
Who may use the libraries?
The Library is open by appointment to all researchers studying modern and contemporary art, architecture, design, and emerging art forms. Because most research involves on-site use of the collection, elementary and secondary students are advised to start their research at school and public libraries. To learn how to do basic art research, see Art Research FAQ.
Where are the libraries? How do I get there?
The MoMA Manhattan Library is located in The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building at 4 West 54 Street, part of the Museum complex in midtown Manhattan. For directions to MoMA see Locations, hours, and admission.
When is the Library open? How do I make an appointment?
Appointments or a Library card are required. All Library materials, regardless of location, require paging a minimum of 48 hours in advance.
The Library is closed during the month of August and for two weeks at the end of December. In February 2019, the Library will also be closed for several months due to the Museum’s extensive renovation and reconstruction project.
What do I do upon arrival?
Enter on 54 Street and check in with the receptionist. Check coats, bags, and cases in the lockers provided. Plastic bags are supplied to carry materials to and from the reading room.
You will receive an elevator pass. In the elevator, hold the pass in front of the small black window below the elevator buttons. When the light turns green, press 6. Remember to return the pass when you leave.
Check in with the librarian. Silence cell phones.
What’s allowed in the reading rooms and what do I have to store in lockers?
For security and preservation purposes, only certain materials are permitted in the reading rooms. All other materials must be stored in the lockers provided.
You may bring a laptop, notebooks, notes, paper, pencils, a camera, digital media, and (silenced) cell phones. Cell phones may not be used on the sixth floor, including in reading rooms, hallways, offices, or bathrooms. Cell phones may only be used in the Cullman lobby.
You must store coats, bags (including purses), laptop and camera cases, pens, and markers.
Will you ship materials from off-site?
Yes. Most materials located at the MoMA Queens Library are now requestable for use at the MoMA Manhattan Library. Please note that all library materials, regardless of location, require paging a minimum of 24 hours in advance.
How are the library, Museum Archives, and Study Centers related?
For primary source materials, especially those concerning The Museum of Modern Art as an institution, contact the Archives. For materials related to individual works in the Museum’s collections, including films and videos, consult the relevant Study Center.
Is the library catalog on the Internet?
May I borrow from the library?
No. The library is a research collection. Materials are for on-site use only.
May I borrow through interlibrary loan?
The library accepts interlibrary loan requests from institutions participating in the SHARES program via OCLC. Materials are loaned for four weeks, for library use only. Due to high volume, only last-resort requests are accepted from libraries unaffiliated with a museum or academic institution. To send a request, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or fax (212) 333-1122. Requests from individuals and non-library institutions are not accepted.
May I put materials on hold?
Yes. Materials may be held at the reference desk until you are finished with them.
May I photograph, scan, or photocopy library materials?
Yes, depending on the condition of the material. Scanners, photocopiers, and a digital camera are available for researcher use. Scanners include:
- Face-up scanner scans color or black-and-white to a USB drive (strongly recommended), email, or paper. Formats include PDF and JPG. Use for fragile or tightly-bound items; recommended for multiple page scans.
- Face-down scanner scans black-and-white PDF to email or paper. Suitable for items with flexible, sewn, or stapled bindings. Best for scans under 10 pages, due to email file-size limits.
- Flatbed scanner scans color and black-and-white to USB, email, DVD, or paper. Saves in many file formats, including JPG, GIF, and Raw Photoshop. Use only for flat, unbound materials.
Paper output is 25 cents per page (double-sided copies are considered one page), payable by cash or check at the reference desk.
What about copyright?
Works in The Museum of Modern Art library may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Therefore, the making of copies, whether by photographs, photocopies, or other reproductions, may be subject to copyright laws. Images may be used only for private study, scholarship, or research. Any other use, including reproduction or publication, requires the permission of the copyright holder.
To learn about reproducing images from the library or Musuem collection, see Licensing.
Can I connect to the Internet with my laptop?
Yes, via the MoMAWifi wireless network. In addition, Internet-accessible computers are available in the reading room. Two loaner laptops and two iPads are available for individual use.
Why can’t I use sticky notes (like Post-It Notes) in the library?
Sticky notes leave an adhesive residue, causing long-term damage to paper. Use plain paper bookmarks, available in the reading rooms.
Will the library copy and send a file to me?
Due to the number of queries we receive, it’s not possible for us to copy and send file contents. Instead, please consult the file at the library. For Artist File contents, a microfiche version (completed 1986) may be available through your local library, interlibrary loan, or from the publisher, Chadwyck-Healey.
Will the library research a topic for me?
No. In-depth questions must be explored by the researcher. Library staff can suggest approaches and sources and can often answer basic reference questions. Reference questions concern readily-available facts (such as artist birth and death dates or Museum collection catalog checks).
Will the library identify, authenticate, or appraise art for me?
Can I recommend a book or other materials for the library to acquire?
The library welcomes suggestions for additions to its collection. All gifts and recommendations are evaluated in accordance with the library’s collection development policy, available upon request. In brief, the library collects comprehensively in modern and contemporary art (including painting, sculpture, drawing, prints, photography, architecture, film and media, design, performance, and emerging art forms). The library collects published material in all media (print, audio, video, digital).
The library also collects artists’ books (also known as bookworks, book objects or artists’ magazines). The library does not collect unique or small-edition artists’ books, illustrated books, or portfolios of prints or photographs.
Books for review should be sent to the Bibliographer at 11 West 53 St., New York, New York, 10019. Book artists should include a biographical statement or curriculum vitae. Due to the volume of material received, materials cannot be returned and may not be acknowledged.
What is an Archive Pamphlet File? How do I find them?
The library’s Archive Pamphlet Files are brief paper (not digital) files on MoMA exhibitions. They may contain clippings, press releases or other ephemera. They are located at the QNS Library.
To find Archives Pamphlet Files, search by keyword for archives pamphlet file and relevant terms. Example: archives pamphlet file automobiles.
Please note: Archives Pamphlet Files on topics and individuals are held by the Archives. Small files on exhibitions are held by the library. For substantive primary source material on MoMA exhibitions, consult the Museum Archives, in particular the Exhibition Files of the Museum of Modern Art.
What is an Artist File? How do I find them?
The library’s Artist Files, numbering over 80,000, may contain exhibition announcements, press releases, clippings, brochures, small exhibition catalog, or checklists, as well as invitations or other ephemera. Most artist exhibition catalogs are not in the artist files; rather, they are cataloged individually in DADABASE.
The library also has other types of files on artists, all cataloged individually in DADABASE: Photo Bio Files, Franklin Furnace Artist Files, PAD/D Files, Artists’ Space Artist Files, and (coming soon) Drawing Center Artist Files.
To see if an artist has a file, search DADABASE by keyword for file and the artist’s name. Example: adrian piper file.
These are paper files (not digital). They are located at the QNS Library. A microfiche version of the files, made in the early 1980s, is available at the Manhattan Library, at several research libraries, or through the publisher, Chadwyck-Healey.
How do I find artists’ books?
To view the entire collection (there are over 10,000!), do an advanced search by subject (artists books) and limit the search further by material type (artists books).
To find works by author or publisher, or on a particular topic, do an advanced search by Any Field (using relevant terms) and limit the search further by material type (artists books). Example: alphabet.
To find works published in one or a range of years, do an advanced search by subject (artists books) and limit the search further by year. Results can be sorted by date.
How do I find auction catalogs?
For individual auction catalogs, search by date of sale in the form yyyymmdd (date of sale search is available in the right menu bar of the advanced search page).
19910108 refers to January 8, 1991
19990518 refers to March 18, 1999
195003 refers to March 1 through March 30, 1950
To find auction catalogs related to an estate or collector, or for a specific genre, movement, medium, or object type, search Arcade by keyword for auction catalogs and add keywords. Examples: auction catalogs rewald.
To limit results to MoMA, do an advanced search in Arcade and limit the search further by collection (Auction Catalogs) and location (MoMA Queens).
To find auction results, use auction research databases such as Artnet, Artfact Pro, Artprice, Gordon’s Photography Prices Database, and Gordon’s Print Prices. Most require on-site use.
Does the library have audiovisual materials? How do I find them?
The library collects LP, cassette, video, diskette, CD, DVD, and other non-print media.
To find audiovisual materials, do an advanced search and limit the search further by material type.
How do I find catalogs raisonnés in DADABASE?
To find a catalogue raisonné (a comprehensive catalog of works by an artist, sometimes limited to one medium, such as prints or painting), search by keyword for the artist’s name and the phrase catalogues raisonne*. Example: catalogues raisonne* miro joan.
What electronic resources does the library have?
MoMA Installation Photographs. Approximately 3,500 images comprehensively documenting major exhibitions from 1929 through 1955
MoMA Architecture and Design Collection. Images of approximately 6,200 works
Periodical indexes: Art Abstracts, ArtBibliographies Modern, Avery Index, Jstor, FIAF Index to Film and TV Periodicals, selected Ebsco Electronic Journals, and more
Auction results indexes: Artfact, ArtInfo, Artnet, Artprice, and Gordon’s Print and Photography Prices
ARTstor image database
WorldCat union catalog
General reference sources such as the Grove Dictionary of Art Online
Does the library have MoMA exhibition catalogs and other Museum publications?
Yes. The library maintains a complete set of MoMA publications, including exhibition catalogs, magazines, annual reports, gallery brochures, many checklists, and press releases. Most are cataloged individually DADABASE and are available in the Manhattan Library reading room. Electronic materials include:
What is the Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection?
The Franklin Furnace Archive was founded by Martha Wilson in 1976 as an archive of artist’s books, as well as an exhibition and performance space. Its mission regarding artists’ books was:
To collect twentieth-century art in book form and related materials published internationally; to inclusively catalog and preserve art in book form; to make accessible and interpret the importance of the permanent collection through computerizing the catalog of the collection, mounting traveling, historical and thematic exhibitions which utilize aspects of the permanent collection; and to mount installations; to publish; to administer education programs; to undertake unforeseen projects consistent with the impulse that produced the works in the permanent collection, such as performance art.
Through 1994, programs included multi-media installations and performance art presentations by emerging artists, including Laurie Anderson, Eric Bogosian, William Wegman, and many others; an archive of artists’ books, periodicals, postcards, soundworks, manifestoes and broadsides; a literary program for elementary and high school students; an internship program for college students; travelling shows of artists’ books; historical and thematic exhibitions of published work by artists; and a reference library on various fields of avant-garde expression.
Following the sale of the archive to the MoMA library in 1994, Franklin Furnace continued to operate as an alternative artists’ space, mounting installations and presenting performances through February 1997. To learn about the current activities of Franklin Furnace, please visit franklinfurnace.org. The portion of the archive at the library comprises artists’ books, bookworks, book objects, artists’ magazines, soundworks, and mail art (all cataloged in DADABASE).
To find artists’ books in the original Franklin Furnace Artists’ Books Collection (over 3,700 items), do an advanced search in Any Field for franklin furnace collection and limit by Material Type (artists books).
What is the Latin American Bibliography?
The Latin American Bibliography lists over 15,000 volumes of literature on Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino art held by the library of The Museum of Modern Art. This subset of the library’s catalog DADABASE is continuously updated.
The strength of the Museum’s collection lies in its exhibition catalogs and artists’ monographs. For those books and catalogs dealing with a number of international artists or art movements, the bibliography is limited to catalogs with significant content devoted to Latin American, Caribbean, and/or U.S. Latino artists. Please note that the library’s substantial holdings of serials, files, and artists’ books concerning Latin America are not specified in the bibliography.
How can I access The Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Archive?
The Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Archive is maintained by the Architecture and Design Study Center. Researchers are advised to start with the publications listed below. These include photographic reproductions of all the architectural drawings by Mies van der Rohe in the possession of the Archive, as well as catalog entries describing each drawing, print, and collage. If the project was built, these volumes contain one or more photographs, and in some cases, photographs of models. The first six volumes cover the German period, while the remaining fourteen volumes are devoted to the American work. The set may be consulted at the library.
Arthur Drexler, ed., The Mies van der Rohe Archive (New York: Garland, 1986–1992), 20 volumes
Ludwig Glaeser. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Drawings in the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art (New York: MoMA, 1969)
Ludwig Glaeser. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Furniture and Furniture Drawings from the Design Collection and the Mies van der Rohe Archive (New York: MoMA, 1977)
What periodicals does the library have? How do I find them?
The collection includes over 4,000 periodical titles dating from the nineteenth century. Approximately 300 of these are current subscriptions. Most print periodicals are located at the MoMA QNS Library. Some periodicals are digitized; most of these are limited to on-site use. For a list of approximately 800 periodicals about modern art, search DADABASE by keyword for modern art periodicals.
Are periodical articles in DADABASE? How do I find articles?
Periodical titles and holdings are listed in DADABASE, but not periodical articles or their citations. E-journals, full-text periodical databases, and periodical indexes are listed in DADABASE. Please note that most are accessible only on site.
For index entries lacking digital content, note the citation, including author, article title, journal title, volume, number, publication date, and page numbers.
David Joselit. “Navigating the New Territory: Art, Avatars, and the Contemporary Mediascape.” Artforum International, v. 43, n. 10, Summer 2005, p. 276–279.
This citation describes an article by Joselit in a journal named Artforum International, which was published in the Summer issue of 2005.
Next find out if the library has the issue corresponding to the citation: search DADABASE by title for Artforum International. Alternatively, search periodicals in Arcade for the title Artforum International. Results may include print and/or electronic versions.
Latest Received: May 2011 v.50 no.1
Location: MoMA Queens Reading Room
Library Has: v.20:no.9(1982:June)–
This means that the QNS Library has issues of Artforum International from June 1982 through May 2011, and they are located in the reading room.
What is a periodical index? What indexes does the library have?
A periodical index lists each article found in a selected number of journals for a specific time period. Indexes may refer to print and/or digital materials. Citation-only indexes lack digital content. They are searchable by author, title, subject date, and other criteria.
Indexes available on site include Art Full Text, ArtBibliographies Modern, Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, Jstor, and FIAF Index to Film and TV Periodicals.
What is the Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D) Archive? How do I find PAD/D materials?
Political Art Documentation/Distribution, an artists’ collective conceived by critic Lucy Lippard in 1979, was active through 1988. Its archive was organized by colleagues Barbara Moore and Mimi Smith and was donated to the library in 1989. PAD/D’s stated goal was:
To provide artists with an organized relationship to society, to demonstrate the political effectiveness of image making, and to provide a framework within which progressive artists can discuss and develop alternatives to the mainstream art system.
The Archive focuses on 1979–90, with some material dating from the early 1960s. The collection is composed of two sections: files and posters. Files are organized by names of persons, groups, and exhibition spaces as well as by topics and PAD/D administrative categories. The files are cataloged individually in DADABASE.
The poster collection includes works relating to ACT UP, Allen Kruger, Coalition for a People’s Alternative in 1980, Dona Ann McAdams, Elizabeth Kulas, Greg Sholette, Guerrilla Girls, Heresies, Jerry Kearns, Keith Haring, PAD/D, Printed Matter, Terminal New York, War Resisters League, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, and others.
For a brief history of PAD/D, see The Museum of Modern Art Library Bulletin, n.86, Winter 1993/94.
To find PAD/D materials, search by keyword for political art documentation distribution (the collection has 2,700 items). To find works on a particular topic or group, or to find posters, add keywords. Example: political art documentation distribution poster peace.
What is a Subject File? How do I find them?
The library’s Subject Files, numbering approximately 4,000, briefly document institutions and topics through announcements and clippings. Subject Files are frozen as of 1998. These are paper files not available in digital form. To see if there are additional materials on your topic, search DADABASE by subject, or ask a librarian for assistance. Subject files are located at the QNS Library.
To find Subject Files, search by keyword for subject file and relevant terms. Example: subject file thefts.
What is a Video Organization File? How do I find them?
This collection of over 800 files documents institutions devoted to television and video art during the 1970s through 1990s. Files may include announcements, screening schedules, newsletters, and other print (not digital) ephemera.
To find Video Organization Files, search DADABASE by keyword for video organization files festival.
What is DADABASE? What is Arcade?
DADABASE is the catalog of the Museum of Modern Art Library and a partial catalog of the Museum Archives and Study Centers. It lists materials in diverse media. Except for electronic resources, the materials themselves are not in DADABASE. Rather, DADABASE describes what the materials are and where they are in the Museum.
DADABASE is a subset of Arcade, the combined library catalog of the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC). Arcade includes the holdings of MoMA, the Frick, and the Brooklyn Museum—over 700,000 titles. Searches can be limited to DADABASE, or expanded to include all three libraries.
What’s in DADABASE besides books?
Databases and e-journals (most limited to on-site use)
Museum newsletters, calendars, bulletins, and annual reports
Franklin Furnace Artists’ Books Collection
Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D) Archive
Selected Auction catalogs
What’s not in DADABASE?
- Periodical articles
- Works in the Museum collections and Study Collections such as paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, architectural drawings, posters, design objects, prints, illustrated books, films, and media
- Most Museum Archives and Study Center materials
- Circulating films
- Film stills
- Film program notes
- Film Special Collections
Are items in DADABASE digitized?
Most items in DADABASE refer to physical materials. For e-resource suggestions related to a particular item, click “Expand This Search.” Many art research databases are also accessible through DADBASE, although most require on-site use. A number of e-sources, such as UbuWeb, are accessible off-site.
What is the syntax for boolean, wildcards, and adjacency?
For details on advanced search syntax, see the search tips at the bottom of the DADABASE advanced search page.
I can’t connect to DADABASE. What should I do?
First, try reconnecting to DADABASE. If that doesn’t work, email email@example.com.
How do I research an artist?
Start with general, authoritative secondary sources.For example, search MoMA.org for authoritative biographies and terms. These are derived from Grove Art Online, accessible in full at the Library. Another major biographical dictionary is the Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, available at the Library. Specialized biographical dictionaries can also be useful. These may focus on artists by nationality, ethnic background, gender, or medium. Many of these are available at the MoMA Library and other art libraries.
Get more specific. Consult monographs (a work focusing on one artist), exhibition catalogs, biographies, periodicals, and interviews. These sources usually have bibliographies or footnotes, pointing you to still more sources. When consulting databases such as Library catalogs or periodical indexes, first search by subject for the artist’s name.
Widen your scope by consulting other secondary source collections. To search many Library collections at once, use the WorldCat or artlibraries.net catalogs. WorldCat in particular compiles the holdings of major libraries worldwide, primarily in North America and Europe. Results can be sorted by zipcode, city, state, or country.
Ask your local librarian. Nothing readily available? It’s easy to miss things on the first try.
How do I research a work of art?
A good first step is to seek a catalogue raisonné of the artist. A catalogue raisonné is a publication (usually a book) that attempts to comprehensively document the works of one artist. Entries for each work sometime list scholarly sources where the work has been discussed. No catalogue raisonné for your artist? Get more specific. More specialized sources can help you make inferences about a work, even if it’s not mentioned specifically.
Still no leads? Unfortunately few books or articles are devoted entirely to one work, so it’s time to get creative. Is the work from a particular movement, time period, genre, or collection? If so, seek out sources along those lines.
How do I get an artwork evaluated, authenticated, or appraised?
Neither the Library nor MoMA does authentications, appraisals, or evaluation. Here are two alternatives:
- Research the work on your own. For general guidance, see above. For valuation in particular, you may be able to locate comparable works using auction results databases, several of which are available at the Library.
- Work with an appraiser. Please see the Appraisers Association of America for more information.
What’s the difference between primary and secondary sources?
Secondary sources are published materials such as books, journals and newspapers, press releases, and authoritative web sites. Secondary sources are generally collected by libraries and are inventoried in catalogs such as DADABASE. Catalog content may be limited to simple citations (directing you a physical object such as a book) or it may be fully integrated with digital content such as databases or full-text journals.
Primary sources are unpublished materials such as letters and memos, draft documents, internal reports, technical drawings, and other forms of direct documentation (moving images, sound recordings, transcripts, photographs). Primary source materials are generally collected by archives and inventoried in finding aids. For example, the Museum Archives maintains authoritative primary sources concerning MoMA (and other aspects of modern art).
To discover archival collections, consult the ArchiveGrid database, available at the Library. Archival collections and finding aids are also readily discoverable through Google searches.
“dorothea lange” archive
“philip johnson” “finding aid”
How can I contact an expert?
The Library doesn’t make referrals to individuals. We can help you find authoritative research materials, which in turn may lead to names of particular scholars and commentators.
What does “fair use” mean?
US copyright law governs photocopies, scans, photographs, and other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, works may be reproduced for “fair use.” One condition of “fair use” is that a reproduction may not be used “for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” Abiding by copyright law is the responsibility of the researcher. The Library reserves the right to decline reproduction if, in its judgment, copyright is being infringed.
Is the whole collection on MoMA.org? How do I find out if a work is in the collection?
How many works are in MoMA’s collection?
Over 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings, and design objects, as well as approximately 22,000 films and 4 million film stills.
How do I learn about a work in the collection?
Contact the relevant study center and the library. Each study center maintains basic information on works in the department’s collection. The library maintains relevant published material such as these print sources on subsets of the collection.
How do I find out if a work is currently on view?
Ask here or contact the library.
May I see a work that’s not on view?
Please contact the relevant study center.
How do I find out about MoMA’s Circulating and International Circulating Exhibitions?
Catalogs, pamphlets, and ephemera from some of these exhibitions are available at the library.
For a general history of the International Program, see: The Museum of Modern Art at Mid-Century: At Home and Abroad (1994) and The International Council of the Museum of Modern Art: the First Forty Years (1993).
What is the Museum’s collection policy?
For a general idea of departmental scope, see the summary of each collection.
For an historical overview of each collection (except Media and Performance Art), see the chapter introductions in Sam Hunter’s The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The History and the Collection (1997).
For an in-depth account of the development of the Painting and Sculpture collection, see Kirk Varnedoe’s “The Evolving Torpedo: Changing Ideas of the Collection of Painting and Sculpture of the Museum of Modern Art” in The Museum of Modern Art at Mid-Century: Continuity and Change (1995).
How do I learn about MoMA exhibition design?
Please see these published sources.
How do I find reviews of MoMA exhibitions?
For some MoMA exhibitions, the library has a number of publicity reports compiled by the Communications Department between 1973 and the present.
How do I find film program notes?
How do I find installation photographs?
Most installation photographs are available through the ARTstor database, available at the library and other research libraries. Additional images are accessible through the MAID database, available at the library. Please note: images of permanent collection installations are incomplete. Ask staff for assistance.
How do I learn about the Museum’s buildings?
How do I learn about past Museum exhibitions?
First, consult exhibition catalogs (available in the library reading room) and related secondary sources such as press releases and independent reviews. Primary source materials are maintained by the Museum Archives.
To find a MoMA exhibition catalog or checklist, search DADABASE by title. Example: pleasures and terrors of domestic comfort.
For an exhibition with a common title, search by keyword for the title and museum modern art new york, or for the title and exhibition year. Results may not be exact. Example: claes oldenburg museum modern art new york.
If there is no exhibition catalog, the library may have checklists and other supplementary material.
To find out whether a specific work was in a MoMA exhibition, contact the library for referral to the relevant department.