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Franke Reading Room: Reader Services

Access and Services for Research Center Collections

Welcome to the Research Center

The 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 located just south of the Grand Staircase inside the museum's Michigan Avenue entrance.

Public Research Hours


The Franke Reading Room is open to public researchers by appointment on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 1:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Walk-ins are not possible. 

The Ryerson and Burnham Libraries and the Art Institute of Chicago Archives steward several distinct collections. You can explore the library catalog here. Archival materials are organized in finding aids. You can explore the archival finding aids here. We invite you to become familiar with our collections in order to determine the best avenue for your research.

Archival collection researchers should review the Archives access guidelines and procedures before their appointment.

Make an appointment using the links below:

Make a Library Appointment      Make an Archives Appointment

  • Appointments are available on a first-come, first-served basis and will be confirmed via email within two business days.
  • Requests for library and archival materials must be received in advance. This time is needed to ensure that materials can be brought to the museum from offsite storage if needed. If materials requests are not received in a timely manner, the appointment will be canceled.
  • Researchers agree to follow the museum’s safety and security guidelines in addition to established reading room policies. Please cancel your appointment if you are feeling ill or exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Seats in the reading room are limited. Please notify us if you can not attend your appointment for any reason.

Art Institute Museum Staff Research Hours

The reading room is always open to Art Institute of Chicago museum staff, Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Learn more about access and services for museum staff here.

Research Center Remote Resources and Services


Remote reference services are available. The Research Center has a small staff that responds to a large volume of inquiries from researchers around the world. 

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.



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


  • 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.

Resources in the Institutional Archives, including the Imaging Archive, are not yet searchable here; visit this page to learn more about these collections.


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 via our Contact and Application for Access form.