A NOTE ON THE LIBRARIES' COLLECTION
As stewards of a renowned museum research collection for art, architecture, and design, the staff in the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries understand how central our physical collection is to scholarly and artistic projects and we are committed to making it as accessible as possible to researchers. Our holdings encompass a wide variety of media, including both digital and physical formats, and containing both mass-produced, widely accessible materials and unique and rare research resources. The most comprehensive way to browse the collection is to use the online catalog, either searching for known items or using the browse search to explore by author, title, subject, or call number.
To complement our physical collection we subscribe to hundreds of subscription resources, most of which are available without login from the museum campus and are included in the online catalog's Everything search scope. A comprehensive list of our subscription resources is available here.
Our collection of more than 650,000 physical items is a mediated-use research collection that does not allow for comprehensive browsing. These materials are stored in more than 30 different permanent locations, the majority of which are located onsite in the Research Center's spaces. However, more than 20 percent of our collection is not browsable: sixteen percent of our collection is stored outside of the Research Center's onsite stacks, and more than seven percent of the collection is housed in special collections storage that is accessible only to Research Center staff. Although we are not able to open the entirety of the collection for browsing, recognizing the serendipity of discovery that shelf browsing makes possible, we are pleased to provide permanent museum staff with access to our onsite, general collections stacks, based on the guidelines below.
STACKS ACCESS GUIDELINES
As of Wednesday, March 1, 2023, we will be piloting a new form of appointments for permanent Art Institute of Chicago museum staff. These appointments will allow permanent museum staff to browse the onsite, general collections stacks (Stack B, Stack K, Stack 3, and Stack 4) with a librarian, who will be available to assist you with research questions and with locating additional materials on your research topic.
These appointments are available based on the following access requirements:
Archival materials (available by appointment only)
Bound-withs (one volume containing multiple titles bound together)
Departmental library materials (Prints and Drawings, Asian Art, Textiles, Conservation and Science, Ancient Art, Paper Conservation)
Materials published prior to 1923
Open-shelf reference collection materials
Oversized materials (materials stored in f stack and fx stack are available by appointment only)
Portfolios of loose plates
Special collections materials (available by appointment only)
Input a keyword into the box and click Search to begin searching the online library catalog.
Online catalogs and databases maintained by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries and the Art Institute of Chicago Archives:
Make requests for materials that are not owned by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries:
Find library information:
A list of online guides and bibliographies developed by librarians to assist research on a variety of art historical and architectural topics, including provenance, building history, appraisal and preservation resources, Chicago neighborhood research, and the history of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Digital collection catalogs available freely online. Catalogs offer detailed art historical context, provenance history, and scientific analysis of artworks in the Art Institute of Chicago's collections.
Ryerson & Burnham Libraries
firstname.lastname@example.org: for reference assistance, library orientation information, questions on interlibrary loan, and questions on library access and services. The following staff can also assist with these types of questions:
Aaron Rutt (x3-3936)
Jenn Smith (x7-7103)
email@example.com: for questions on circulation, offsite materials, bulk returns, and scanning requests. The following staff can also assist with these types of questions:
Abby Adams (x3-3667)
The Art Institute of Chicago Archives
For information on our collections, the history of the Art Institute and the School of the Art Institute, donation proposals, corrections, comments, and general questions, please contact Archives staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.