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Franke Reading Room Reopening: Reader Services Fall 2021

Access and Services for the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries and the Art Institute of Chicago Archives, September through December 2021

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.

Staff Research Hours

The reading room is open to Art Institute of Chicago staff and SAIC faculty by appointment. Please visit our intranet page to learn more about reading room access and research services for museum staff.

Public 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. The reading room is open for onsite, in-person research but please note that access is available by advance appointment only; walk-in appointments are not possible.

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

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

  • Information regarding appointment availability and procedures for museum and SAIC staff is available hereSAIC students should schedule appointments using the procedures and links for requesting public research appointments.

  • Reading room capacity is currently limited to 10 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 four (4) business days 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 four (4) business days prior to your appointment the appointment will be cancelled. 

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

  • Public researchers needing an appointment, please continue to What to Expect When You Visit.

Research Center Remote Resources and Services

Remote reference services, interlibrary loan, 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, though we can point you to freelance researchers to assist with these types of projects.

Art Institute of Chicago staff, including the staff in the Research Center, may not appraise or authenticate artworks. Librarians can point you to resources that you can use to learn more about the artworks in your collection. This information on researching art and artists and this list of appraisal resources will assist you with this type of research.


Interlibrary Loan

The library is a member of SHARES, the Research Libraries Group Shared Resources Service, and we lend materials and provide scans of library collection materials through interlibrary loan to other institutions. Our interlibrary loan policies are available through the OCLC policies directory.

Librarians seeking loans from our collection may email us with questions about interlibrary loan. Although we prefer to receive interlibrary loan requests through OCLC, we also accept requests from international and other non-OCLC libraries through email.

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