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About the Library

As one of the major art reference libraries in the United States, we house materials dating from the 1400s to the present.

The approximately 285,000 auction catalogs, books, e-books, ephemera, periodicals, and online database subscriptions in the library reflect the museum’s collections, which focus on European, American, and Asian painting and sculpture; furniture and decorative arts; arms and armor; costume and textiles; prints, drawings, and photographs; and modern and contemporary art.

We also provide the public with access to the museum’s images.

Visit the Library

The Library is open to the public with a free Researcher’s Pass which can be obtained from the guard at the Perelman Building entrance.

All materials, regardless of location, require advance paging which occurs twice daily, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The Library is a closed-stack (non-browsing), non-circulating collection.

Digital images may be taken with a camera, cell phone, or tablet (without flash). Additionally an overheard book scanner is available free of charge. Researchers may bring their own portable USB or send scans via email.

Featured Publication

Featured Database

Bloomsbury Design Library

The Bloomsbury Design Library gives comprehensive global coverage of the history, theory and practice of crafts and design, from prehistoric times to the present day.

Museums Etc.

The MuseumsEtc Collection shares innovation in museum practice worldwide, drawing on the international experience of hundreds of leading museums and galleries in such key areas as inclusion, interpretation, learning, management, new media, and visitor engagement. Designed specifically for use in both academic and professional contexts, the collection is in use in leading museums and galleries worldwide.

Adam Matthew Digital Explorer

Access millions of pages of primary source collections across the entire portfolio of Adam Matthew Digital, spanning content from the 15th–21st centuries.

Academic Video Online (AVON)

Academic Video Online makes video material available with curricular relevance: documentaries, interviews, performances, news programs and newsreels, and more. Search for award-winning films including Academy®, Emmy®, and Peabody® winners and access content from PBS, BBC, 60 MINUTES, National Geographic, Annenberg Learner, BroadwayHD™, A+E Networks’ HISTORY® and more.

Library Installation

Installation view of Product Environment, 1970. Philadelphia Museum of Art Library and Archives: Rights and Reproductions Photograph Collection

Past Futures: Innovative Design and the Philadelphia Museum of Art​

November 5, 2019–April 10, 2020

Explore the rich history of design at the museum from its beginnings to the present day. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Designs for Different Futures, this installation showcases design-related materials from the museum’s Library and Archives. A particular emphasis is placed on historical exhibitions and projects that display the themes of innovation and social engagement present in today’s cutting-edge design.


Rick Sieber, Librarian for Reader Services