The MoMA Library is currently closed.
In order to focus our staff and other resources on the Museum’s extensive expansion and reinstallation project, the Archives, Library, and Research Collections will be closed to the public June 15–October 21. We look forward to assisting you on October 22 with the scheduling of onsite appointments and other reference requests. We are aware of the inconvenience this temporary closure may pose to researchers, and hope you understand why this is necessary during this busy and exciting period for us.
For further information on the Museum’s expansion project, please visit A new MoMA.
Library Catalog FAQ
What is DADABASE? Arcade? Discovery? Why should I use one or the other?
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, including analog materials, e-books, and (mostly subscription) databases. In general, 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.
Use DADABASE to focus on MoMA’s modern and contemporary art collection, and use Arcade to focus on art of all periods.
NYARC Discovery incorporates DADABASE and Arcade, along with additional selected digital sources. These include open access and subscription-based journal articles, historical newspapers and other print publications, along with archive finding aids, photo archive databases, and more. Use Discovery to get a general sense of literature on a given topic (including surveys and subject headings or descriptive terms). Discovery can also be useful for checking journal article details such as numbering and publication date.
Digital sources in Discovery include:
Academic One File (Gale)
Design and Applied Arts Index
ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)
General One File (Gale)
International Bibliography of Art
Library of Congress Collections
Oxford Art Online
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
ProQuest Country Life Archive
ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Full Text
University of Chicago Press Journals
What’s in DADABASE besides books?
- Databases and e-journals (most limited to on-site use)
- Files on individual artists
- Selected Museum Archives and Study Center materials
- Museum newsletters, calendars, bulletins, and annual reports
- Franklin Furnace Artists’ Books Collection
- Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D) Archive
- Audiovisual materials
- 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
Is DADABASE content digital?
Most materials listed in DADABASE are analog.
I can’t connect to DADABASE. What should I do?
First, try reconnecting to DADABASE. If that doesn’t work, email email@example.com.
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, and Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D) 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) and must be consulted on site. A microfiche version of the files, made in the early 1980s, is available at several research libraries, or through the publisher, Chadwyck-Healey.
How do I find artists’ books?
To view the entire collection (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 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* o’keefe.
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 are usually brief and 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.
For digital versions of out-of-print MoMA catalogs, as well as master checklists, press releases, and installation photographs for virtually all exhibitions, see the Exhibition History. Additional, extensive primary source materials on MoMA and MOMA PS1 exhibitions are held by the MoMA Archives. For more information, see the Archives FAQ.
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. Example: DVDs about modern art.
What journals and magazines 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. 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.
For a periodical with a known title, search periodicals by title in Arcade. Example: revolution surrealiste.
For periodicals on a specific topic, search periodicals in Arcade by subject. Or do an advanced search in DADABASE by subject and include the word periodicals. Example: africa periodicals.
For periodicals in particular languages, do an advanced search and limit search further by language. To search for multiple languages, ctrl + click on list items.
Are journal articles in DADABASE? How do I find articles?
Journal titles and holdings are listed in DADABASE, but not individual articles or their citations. E-journals, full-text periodical databases, and periodical indexes are listed in DADABASE, and in the companion catalog NYARC Discovery. Most journals, both print and digital, require on site use.
To find periodical articles, use full-text periodical databases and citation-only periodical indexes. For citation-only entries, note the citation, including author, article title, journal title, volume, number, publication date, and page numbers.
What is a periodical index? Why do I need one?
A periodical index lists each article found in a selected number of journals for a specific time period. Indexes may refer to print or digital materials. They are searchable by author, title, subject date, and other criteria. For print journal content, citation-only periodical indexes are crucial for finding articles, pointing to the precise journal, volume, number, and page of articles.
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.
To find Subject Files, search by keyword for subject file and relevant terms. Example: subject file alternative spaces.
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 does “Checked Out” mean?
Library materials may be in use (“checked-out”) by Museum staff, or for cataloging, interlibrary loan, preservation, or exhibition. Checked out materials may be retrievable for consultation in the reading rooms; allow a minimum of two days for delivery. To check on availability, ask at the reference desk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does “Use Copy on Microfilm” or “Use Copy on Microfiche” mean?
For preservation purposes, microfilm/fiche copies may be provided in place of rare or fragile original materials. Scans and prints may be made from microfilm.
What is the syntax for boolean, wildcards, and adjacency when searching in DADABASE?
For details on advanced search syntax, see the search tips at the bottom of the DADABASE advanced search page.
Library Collections FAQ
What electronic resources does the library have?
In addition to DADABASE, the Library’s online catalog, several other electronic resources are available for on-site use. Some of these e-sources can be searched at all at once with NYARC Discovery. Major sources include:
- Biographical databases: Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon / Artists of the World, Benezit Dictionary of Artists, DesignProFILES, Rhizome
- Disssertation and Theses Full Text
- Periodical indexes: Art Abstracts, Art Retrospective, Avery Index to Architectural Literature, Jstor, FIAF Index to Film and TV Periodicals, selected full-text journals, and more
- Auction results indexes: Artfact, ArtInfo, Artnet, Artprice, and Gordon’s Print and Photography Prices
- ARTstor image database
- WorldCat union catalog
- Selected e-books
Additional art e-sources are available remotely to New York Public Library card holders. These include Oxford Art Online, Artifex catalogues raisonnes, and Project Muse, among others.
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, see franklinfurnace.org. The portion of the archive at the library comprises artists’ books, bookworks, book objects, artists’ publications, soundworks, and mail art (all cataloged in DADABASE).
The archive also includes related materials such as books, exhibition catalogs, ephemera, sound recordings, photographic portraits of artists, performance documentation, and newsletters. In addition, the archive contains documentary materials generated by Franklin Furnace, such as exhibition planning records and correspondence, published checklists and catalogs, and records relating to acquisitions.
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.
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 has two parts: files and posters. Files are organized by names of persons, groups, and spaces as well as by topics and PAD/D administrative categories. The files are cataloged individually in DADABASE.
Files for individuals include Sue Coe and Lucy Lippard among hundreds of others, along with files for organizations such as ABC No RIO, Group Material, Guerrilla Art Action Group (GAAG), and numerous groups focused on women.
The collection also includes the archive of the PAD/D journal Upfront and the initiative Artists’ Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America.
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.
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)
How do I find auction results?
Use on-site auction research databases such as Artnet, Artfact Pro, Artprice, Gordon’s Photography Prices Database, and Gordon’s Print Prices.
Why can’t I access digital content from Artforum, Frieze, Kunstforum International, Text zur Kunst or other journals I find online?
In some instances, access is indirect. Check this e-journal title index for titles and coverage dates. In other instances, print and digital versions of journals require separate subscriptions for institutions, and for various reasons the Library may subscribe to the print version only (personal subscriptions to print journals often do include digital access, however). Finally, some pre-digital journals such early issues of Artforum have not been digitized. If in doubt, ask staff for assistance.
Art Research FAQ
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 ArchiveGrid, a database of primary-source collection finding aids. Archival collections and finding aids are also readily discoverable through Google searches.
“dorothea lange” archive
“philip johnson” “finding aid”
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, also 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.
Take a deep dive into primary sources. Search ArchiveGrid, a database of primary-source collection finding aids. Be prepared to travel–most archives require on-site use.
To explore primary source material in the MoMA Archives, see the MoMA Archives FAQ.
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 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.
MoMA Research FAQ
Is MoMA’s whole collection on MoMA.org? How do I find out if a work is in the collection?
The online collection is selective. To check if a work (except films and videos) is in the collection, contact the library. For films and videos, contact the Film Study Center. For performance art, contact the Media and Performance Study Center. The complete collection is also available as a regularly updated dataset.
How many works are in MoMA’s collection?
Almost 200,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings, and design objects, media and performance art, as well as 30,000 films, 1.5 million film stills, and 60,000 film-related objects.
How do I learn about a work in the collection?
First, search moma.org for basic information and commentary. A general search includes the (selective) online collection as well as digitized exhibition catalogs and multimedia.
Next, contact the relevant Study Center and the Library. Each study center maintains basic information on works in the department’s collection, for consultation on site. The Library maintains relevant published material such as these print sources on subsets of the collection.
To learn about researching primary source material in the MoMA Archives, see the Archives FAQ.
May I see a work that’s not on view?
Contact the relevant Study Center.
How do I obtain a reproduction of a work in the Museum’s collection?
In addition to images in the online collection, representative images from two MoMA collections (Painting and Sculpture, Architecture and Design) are included in the ARTstor database, available at the Library and other research libraries.
For information on publishing a reproduction of a MoMA work, see the Licensing policy.
May I reproduce text or photographs from a Museum publication?
Contact the Department of Publications.
May I view a film or video in the collection?
How do I learn about past exhibitions at MoMA and MoMA PS1?
The Exhibition History site includes a master checklist, press release, installation photographs, and out-of-print exhibition catalogs (where available) for each exhibition at MoMA in Manhattan. The site also includes a chronology of exhibitions at PS1 dating from the start in 1971. For a chronological list of MoMA exhibition titles, see this Exhibition History List.
The Library holds printed exhibition catalogs from MoMA and MOMA PS1, including catalogs for traveling MoMA exhibitions. To find them, 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.
For a more precise search, check the exhibition history list for the exhibition number. Then search DADABASE by MoMA Call Number for moma [number] (omit letters).
From exhibition history list: 902a. Claes Oldenburg [MoMA Exh. #902a, September 23-November 23, 1969] Search: moma 902
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).
How many women, people of color, or people of particular nationality have been exhibited at MoMA? How many have works in the collection?
MoMA has not compiled this information, but much can be learned from the (selective) online collection, searchable by artist name and other keywords. Artists can be searched (imprecisely) by keyword for nations and nationalities. Example: egyptian.
Additional sources with limited information include the 1967 catalog Painting and Sculpture in the Museum of Modern Art, which indexes artists by nationality (as determined at the time); Modern Women, which addresses over 300 women in the collection, along with critical essays on the issue; and this list of women artists in the online collection highlights.
Who was the first woman to have a show at MoMA?
The first woman to have a solo show at MoMA was Therese Bonney in War Comes to the People: History Written with the Lens (1940). Other early shows include:
- Josephine Joy: Romantic Painter (1942)
- Faees and Places in Brazil: Photographs by Genevieve Naylor (1943)
- Helen Levitt: Photographs of Children (1943)
- Georgia O’Keeffe (1946)
- Photographs by Margaret Bourke-White, Helen Levitt, Dorothea Lange, Tana Hoban, Esther Bubley, and Hazel-Frieda Larsen (1949)
Who was the first person of color to have a show at MoMA?
MoMA has not compiled this information, but much can be learned from the Exhibition History site, searchable by artist name, nationality, and other keywords.
If defined as a person of African ancestry, the first solo show of a living African American artist was Sculpture by William Edmondson in 1937. Another early show was Paintings by Jacob Lawrence (1944). Some other early exhibitions that may be pertinent to this question are listed below.
- 46 Painters and Sculptors Under 35 Years of Age, 1930 (included Native-American artists and artists from Mexico)
- Diego Rivera, 1931–1932
- Persian Fresco Painting, 1932
- American Sources of Modern Art (Aztec, Mayan, Incan), 1933
- African Negro Art, 1935
- The Work of Sharaku, 1940
- Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art and Mexican Children’s Art, 1940
- Portinari of Brazil, 1940
- Indian Art of the United States, 1941
- New Acquisitions: Latin American Art, 1942
- Mexican Costumes by Carlos Merida, 1942
- The Americas Cooperate, 1942
- Art from Fighting China, 1942
- Brazil Builds, 1943
- Latin American Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, 1943
- Bali, Background for War, 1943
- Young Negro Art, 1943
- Modern Cuban Painters, 1944
- Chinese Children’s War Pictures, 1944
For one artist’s examination of nationalities and nationalism in MoMA’s early history, see Fred Wilson’s web project Road to Victory.
How do I learn about MoMA exhibition design?
How do I find installation photographs?
See the Exhibition History.
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.
Reviews can also be found using periodical databases. Occasionally reviews are included in the library’s Archives Pamphlet Files.
How do I find film program notes?
How do I learn about the Museum’s buildings?
How do I learn about the Sculpture Garden?
How do I find MoMA and MoMA PS1 exhibition catalogs and publications?
The Library maintains a complete set of MoMA and MoMA PS1 publications, including exhibition catalogs, magazines, annual reports, gallery brochures, many checklists, and press releases. Most are cataloged individually in DADABASE and are available in the Manhattan Library reading room.
For digital versions of out-of-print MoMA catalogs, as well as master checklists, press releases, and installation photographs for virtually all exhibitions, see the Exhibition History.
How do I obtain an out-of-print MoMA publication?
Out-of-print MoMA exhibition catalogs are integrated into Exhibition History as searchable PDFs. Print copies of MoMA exhibition catalogs and other publications are often available through used book websites such as AbeBooks.com and Amazon.com.
How do I find past issues of MoMA bulletins and magazines?
How do I find MoMA annual reports?
A full set of MoMA annual reports is available at the QNS Library. Reports from 1969–1998 are available in the Manhattan Library reading room. No annual reports were published prior to 1936, or for 1943, 1946, 1949–1954 and 1956–1960. Full annual reports ceased in 1997–1998. Some annual reports were published in the MoMA Bulletin, found in print or in the Jstor database available at the Library and other research libraries. For 1998–1999 and beyond, see the Consolidated Financial Statements. For 2007 on, see these recent financial statements.
For questions that are not included here, please email email@example.com, call (212) 708-9433, or fax (212) 333-1122.