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SAIC Access to the Franke Reading Room: Policies

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


General Policies

  • Museum visitors of high-school age and above may consult the collections of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries and the Art Institute of Chicago Archives by advance appointment only; walk-in appointments are not possible. Younger researchers should contact the reference desk at (312) 443-3666 or to inquire about access in advance of their visit.

  • Coats, jackets, and umbrellas must be checked in the Reading Room prior to seating for your research appointment.

  • No food or drink is allowed inside the reading room.

  • Please turn off or silence your cell phone while using the reading room.

  • All briefcases, bags, parcels, satchels, and loose books and papers will be inspected when leaving the reading room.

  • Only pencils may be used in the reading room. Use of pens, ink, markers, and erasable ink is not permitted. Pencils are available at all public desks.

  • Tracing from or writing on collection materials is not permitted.

  • Do not write on books, mark pages, or use Post-Its on collection materials.

  • Laptops may be used in the Reading Room. Free wireless is available without a password, and outlets are available beneath all study tables.

  • Patrons consulting special collection materials and archival materials may require additional supervision with viewing and handling those items.

  • The libraries and archives attempt to make our original documents available to patrons; in a few cases the fragility of the originals has necessitated a microfilm, photograph, or photocopy surrogate for patron use.

  • Researchers who are studying items in their collections are welcome to bring in photographs of those items, but should not not bring any art objects into the museum.

Archives Access Policies

Archives Access Policies

  • Processed archival collections are included in the library’s catalog and are available to museum visitors by advance appointment only; walk-in appointments are not possible.

  • The researcher agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Art Institute of Chicago, its officers and employees, from and against all claims and actions arising out of the researcher’s use of the documents.

  • Researchers must complete the pre-registration process and submit their request for materials one (1) week prior to arrival on-site. Information regarding this process will be provided to researchers along with their appointment confirmation. If these steps are not completed one week prior to the scheduled appointment, the appointment will be canceled.

  • Archival materials must be consulted in the assigned locations in the reading room and may at no time be removed from the premises. No smoking, eating, or drinking is allowed in these areas.

  • Collections may be unavailable for research due to incomplete organization or description; condition issues; possible violation of right to privacy or correspondents; or the Art Institute of Chicago’s reservation of first rights to publication of current projects.

Photography Policies

Photography Policies

  • The use of personal scanners is not allowed in the reading room.

  • The use of professional photography equipment, including tripods, lighting equipment, and copy stands, is not permitted in the reading room.

  • Digital photography of non-archival items is permitted, but please turn off the camera’s flash.

  • Archival materials may not be photographed without consulting the reference desk staff and completing the Permission to Photograph Archival Collections form (available at the reference desk). Restricted and unprocessed materials may not be photographed for any reason without the explicit permission of archives staff.

Photography services are available. Please see the reference desk for assistance.

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