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Reading Room Access and Research Services for AIC Staff Summer 2021: Archives

Learn about collection access and research services available to AIC staff July 12-September 3.

Welcome to the Archives

New policies and procedures are in place to provide access to the Art Institute of Chicago Archives' collections while keeping staff safe during the pandemic. This page contains links to our digital resources, as well as information about what's changed and what hasn't changed in the archives. Visit the tabs above to learn more about policies and procedures for the Libraries.

Please contact Archives staff if you have any questions. Our contact information is at the bottom of this page.

What's Changed During Pandemic Conditions?

Welcome to our new department

All of the museum's archives, including the institutional archives, imaging archives, Ryerson and Burnham Art and Architecture Archives, and digital preservation efforts, are now unified under the Art Institute of Chicago Archives banner, situated within the newly-formed AIC Research Center.

Though unveiled during our closure, this new organizational structure is a permanent change and will be maintained after pandemic conditions have abated. We look forward to delivering improved service and access to AIC archival collections for all users using the efficiencies and new expertise that this restructuring will bring.


How to access materials

The reading room remains closed. However, we are now accepting limited in-person research appointments for staff beginning April 26, 2021. Appointments will be limited to 2 hours slots (9-11am, 11am-1pm, 1pm-3pm) and are available for Tuesdays and Thursdays ONLY. Archives staff will respond to your appointment request within 72 hours.

For staff working remotely, Archives staff will continue to provide reference services via email to the best of our abilities. Please contact us at for all Archives related questions.

Due to our limited onsite staffing, it may take up to 2 weeks to provide a preliminary response or up to 6 weeks for more complex inquiries and those necessitating access to offsite records. Turnaround times for new imaging requests are 8 to 12 weeks and 4 to 6 weeks for existing image files.


How to access Imaging Archive materials

Please see the 'Existing Images' section of Imaging's intranet site on how to access existing digitized and born digital images from the Imaging archive. If you would like access to an image that you don't currently see in our systems (CITI, NetX, public website) or if you have a general reference request relating to the Imaging archives, please submit the appropriate Jira ticket:

Limited reference services will be provided for physical archive materials that have not yet been digitized, on a one day per month basis, based on capacity. 

Please review the information available on the Imaging department’s intranet site for more information about how to place requests and turnaround times for work that can be accommodated. Please also see this guide on how to access existing digitized and born digital images from the Imaging archive.


Public hours

The reading room will be closed to the public for the foreseeable future, and it is inaccessible for events and group visits.

What Remains the Same During Pandemic Conditions?

Online resources

All online archival resources—including the Finding Aids, Digital Collections, Oral Histories, Digital Publications, Institutional Archives resources, and more—continue to be available for remote access, both on and offsite the AIC/SAIC campus.

Archives staff will be glad to assist with searching all other internal and non-public resources.


See you soon!

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Ryerson & Burnham Libraries and Archives Search

Search the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries and Art and Architecture Archives

Input a keyword into the box and click Search to begin searching the online library catalog, including content from the Art and Architecture Finding Aids, Digital Collections, and Oral History databases.

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

AIC Archives Resources

AIC Archives Resources

Institutional Archives:


A site designed to provide broad, top-level guidance for AIC staff on how to manage their digital files. It provides information to help guide staff decision-making about what to save, what to keep within a department, and what to transfer to the AIC Institutional Archives for long-term preservation.

  • Imaging Archives

The earliest images date to around 1900, and formats in the collection include negatives, transparencies, and prints. The Imaging department fully converted to digital capture in 2003. With few exceptions, all the photographic materials in the archive were created by AIC staff or contract photographers hired by AIC.

Search exhibitions by keyword or browse by date. Some records include photographs or digitized exhibition catalogs.

To obtain the full text of any news releases in this index, please contact the Archives at

Find lists of museum records, school records, affiliated organization records, and personal papers held by the Institutional Archives.

Ryerson and Burnham Art and Architecture Archives:

Catalog of electronic surrogates of selected original archival materials from the Art and Architecture collections. Materials may include photographs, slides, architectural drawings and prints, correspondence, and printed papers.

  • Finding Aids

A finding aid is a document, like an inventory, describing a set of archival records. Finding aids typically provide background information on the organization, person, or family who created the materials in the collection, an organizational overview of the collection and its arrangement, and a detailed listing.

Explore over 200 oral histories of Chicago-based artists, architects, and designers.

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.

Other Resources

Other Resources

Online catalogs and databases maintained by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries:

Find library information:

Contact Us

Art Institute of Chicago Archives

(312) 857-7676