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SAIC Access to the Franke Reading Room: Reader Services

Information on how to access the Franke Reading Room to consult the collections of the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries and the Art Institute of Chicago Archives

Welcome to the Research Center

The Research Center brings together the divisions of Academic Engagement and Research, the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, and the Art Institute of Chicago Archives to expand access to the museum’s rich educational and research offerings. 

Faculty and Staff Research Hours

The reading room is open to SAIC faculty and staff by appointment on the following days and times:

Faculty and staff may also request appointments during public research hours if space permits:

The reading room is closed on Mondays.

Student Research Hours


The Research Center’s Franke reading room is a shared space in which researchers can consult the collections of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries and the Art Institute of Chicago Archives. Access is available by advance appointment only; walk-in appointments are not possible.

  • Archival research appointments  are available Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., and may be requested here:   Make an Appointment

  • Library research appointments are available Thursdays and Fridays from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., and may be requested here:   Make an Appointment

  • Reading room capacity is currently limited to 12 researchers per session. Research appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, and will be confirmed via email by Research Center staff. 

  • Researchers must complete a pre-registration process and submit their request for materials a minimum of one week prior to arrival onsite. Information regarding this process will be provided to researchers along with their appointment confirmation. If these steps are not completed one week prior to your appointment the appointment will be canceled. 

  • Researchers agree to follow the museum’s safety and security guidelines in addition to established reading room policies.

  • Students interested in making an appointment, please continue to What to Expect When You Visit.

Research Center Remote Resources and Services

Remote reference services and photoduplication services are available for researchers who do not require onsite, in-person access to the collections. 


Remote Reference Service

You can reach librarians and archivists on the telephone during research hours by calling (312) 443-3666. Archivists are available to assist with your research on Thursdays and Fridays between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Librarians are available to assist with your research on Thursdays and Fridays between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

We also welcome email correspondence. For reference assistance with the archival collections, please email For reference assistance with the library collections, please email The Ryerson and Burnham Libraries and the Art Institute of Chicago Archives have a small staff that answers a large volume of inquiries from researchers around the world. You should receive an initial response to your email within six (6) weeks. 

We recommend that you consult our research guides and discovery tools in order to make your questions as precise as possible. Our reference services are primarily intended to support researchers who require access to our specialized and unique collections. We are unable to provide in-depth research assistance to remote researchers, and encourage you to make an appointment to consult the materials in our collections.

Digital Resources from the Art Institute of Chicago

Digital Resources from the Art Institute of Chicago

  • Ryerson & Burnham Art and Architecture Archives: Digital Collections
  • Finding Aids: Finding aids are inventories or indices that describe the contents and context of an archival collection and are the primary method of accessing information about any given group of records.
  • Images and Media: Catalog of electronic surrogates of selected original archival materials from the Ryerson & Burnham Archives collections. Materials may include photographs, slides, architectural drawings and prints, correspondence, and printed papers.
  • Oral Histories: Browse over 250 artists and architect oral histories.

A list of online guides and bibliographies developed by Ryerson & Burnham librarians to assist research on a variety of art historical and architectural topics, including provenance research, 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.

Search the Libraries

Search the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries

Input a keyword into the box and click Search to begin searching the online library catalog.

Search the Art and Architecture Archives

Search the Ryerson and Burnham Art and Architecture Archives

Input a keyword into the search box and then click Search to search through the archival collections.

Unfortunately, resources in the Institutional Archives, including the Imaging Archive, are not yet searchable here; please visit this page for more information.


Contact Us

Ryerson & Burnham Libraries

For information on the museum collections, library collections, and library services, please contact Library staff at


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