The Center for American Art offers assistance for all types of research about the nation’s artistic heritage. Alongside the museum’s own library and archives, the center administers the files for the museum’s American art collections and maintains the Lloyd and Edith Havens Goodrich Record of Works by Thomas Eakins and the American Watercolors research portal, which provides resources for studying American watercolors, prints, and drawings from 1850 to 1925.
Additionally, the museum offers several free resources to aid researchers, including:
- An online searchable database of many (but not all) objects in the collection,
- The museum’s archives, which holds a variety of materials that chronicle the history of the institution, and
- The museum’s library, which contains 285,000 print and electronic books, periodicals, auction catalogues, and online databases, as well as more than 190,000 cataloged digital images.
Since not all objects are represented online, please email email@example.com to inquire about further collection holdings that may be of interest. Due to the fragility, rarity, and difficulty of handling certain objects, requests are subject to the approval of curators and conservators.
When accessing materials, certain types of information may not be available because of restrictions that protect the privacy rights of individuals/organizations or the proprietary rights of the museum, or for other reasons. However, access to the bulk of the collection is unrestricted and will be made available to researchers on a fair and equitable basis.
Request an Appointment
Appointments to access American art collection objects or research files can be scheduled for Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Availability may be restricted by the department’s exhibition schedule and by staff and space limitations.
To request a visit, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Preferred date of visit
- Subject of research
- Purpose of research
- Collection objects to be consulted
- Research files to be consulted
A staff member will contact you to confirm the appointment.
When working with collection objects and files, kindly follow these guidelines:
- Check personal belongings such as coats, bags, backpacks, umbrellas, and portfolios at the museum’s coat check ahead of the scheduled appointment time. Pencils, paper, laptops, and cameras are allowed.
- Food (including candy or gum) and beverages (including water) are not permitted in secured storage areas.
- A staff member will be present at all times with you in secured storage areas and will handle and move art objects. When closely examining objects, ensure your accessories, apparel, and other personal items do not touch the object. Be mindful not to touch an object when pointing or looking through magnifying glasses or other devices.
- Objects may be photographed with a digital camera, cell phone, or tablet but without the use of flash or a tripod. Images of many collection objects are available on the museum’s website. To publish an image of a work from the museum’s collection, email email@example.com for information about photography rights and costs.
Archival and Research Files
- Individuals granted an appointment will receive permission to examine materials after filling out and signing a researcher registration form. This document includes an agreement that confirms that access procedures and copyright law notifications have been read. Please visit the Library and Archives page to learn more about copyright law notifications and access procedures. Signed copies will be kept on file with a list of records pulled.
- Individuals can examine records one box at a time, one folder at a time, maintaining the order in which they were received. Notify a staff member if anything appears to be out of order—do not rearrange the records yourself.
- Digital images may be taken with an electronic device, as long as the flash is turned off.
When handling records, please do not bring any food or beverages to the reading table, don’t erase, trace, or mark up any of the documents, and do not bend or crease brittle paper. Please refer to our Library and Archives page to learn more about access and handling procedures.