The Frick Art Reference Library’s Photoarchive consists of more than 1,000,000 reproductions of works of art of the Western tradition dating from the 4th to the mid-20th century. Although photoarchives were the foundation of art historical study in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these extraordinary resources, which allow researchers to review comprehensive holdings of individual artists and regional schools, have become increasingly rare during the past decade. Because of limitations of space, staff, or funds, many photoarchives have been dismantled. Several historic research collections, however, including those of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art, have been preserved in part or in their entirety at the Frick Art Reference Library. Scholars, students, dealers, and artists active in New York City now have access to a diverse collection of study photographs in one location.
One hundred years ago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened the doors of its library's new home to art historians, students, and the general public. The Museum's founders understood the essential role of a library in fulfilling the institution's mission. In fact, the original 1870 New York State charter specifically committed the new institution to "establishing and maintaining . . . a Museum and library of art." (See the Now at the Met blog post, "Today in Met History: April 13" for more about the Museum's charter.) The library was formally established in 1880, and today it shares the Museum's distinction of being among the world’s greatest treasuries for the study of the arts of many cultures.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives is pleased to announce that the Durr Friedley Records, 1906-1918, and the William Church Osborn Records, 1904-1953, have been recently processed and are now open for scholarly research.
JSTOR is collaborating with the Thomas J. Watson Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Art Reference Library in a pilot project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to understand how auction catalogs can best be preserved for the long term and made most easily accessible for scholarly use. Auction catalogs are vital for provenance research as well as for the study of art markets and the history of collecting. Libraries, however, face a range of challenges with respect to their catalog collections, including preservation concerns and shelf space constraints.
WATSONLINE is the online catalog of the libraries of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It provides access to bibliographic records for 690,000 volumes, including 14,000 serial titles, 125,000 auction catalogs, and 28,000 vertical files in the collections of the Museum's twenty-six libraries. WATSONLINE also cites items that are on order or in process, as well as partial holdings of archival collections.