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About the Art & Architecture Collection

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The Art and Architecture Collection contains published works on fine art, decorative arts, architecture and design history in general. The scope of the Collection is international, covering the arts from prehistory through the contemporary period. The holdings are remarkably rich for scholarship as a result of the original bequests from the Astor and Lenox collections, and other generous gifts. The Collection is particularly strong in the decorative arts; included among its early holdings is an antiquarian-based collection of portfolio and plate-books; the history of painting and drawing; and in Western European and American architectural history.

A wide variety of printed art material is collected: monographs, exhibition catalogs, auction catalogs, periodicals, monographic series, series and annuals, oeuvres and catalogues raisonnés, in English and Western European languages. The collection maintains an Artist File on microfiche, composed of over 110,000 files on individual artists working in all types of media. The collection also maintains a Pamphlet File of historical information from regional art institutions: including galleries, art schools, professional organizations, and landmark sites.

Materials on artistic techniques, crafts, hobbies, and how-to projects are collected at the Mid-Manhattan Library’s Art Collection. African, African-American, and Black Caribbean arts are collected by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Items relating to film, theater, and music can be found in the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. Please consult the online Catalog, which will indicate the location of each item.