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Thomas J. Watson Library

Thomas J. Watson Library, the Museum's central library, is the heart of research and scholarly activity at the Museum. Its collection, together with the distinctive collections of the Museum's departmental libraries, comprises one of the preeminent libraries for research in the history of art.

In Circulation

A Scholar's Passion: The William H. Forsyth Papers at The Cloisters

Michael Carter, Librarian, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Cloisters Library and Archives is pleased to announce that it has completed processing the papers of one of the Museum's founding figures, curator William H. Forsyth (1907–2003). The finding aid can be found on the Digital Collections site.

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In Circulation

Pictures and Words: Book Illustration in Interwar France, Part I

Deborah Vincelli, Electronic Resources and Instructional Services Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"Yes, but does the book have pictures?" is a question you might remember having asked as a child. If that is the case, then you will be intrigued by Watson Library's recent acquisition of Les Artistes du Livre, a twenty-four-volume set of folios highlighting the work of French illustrators from 1928 to 1933. Both the illustrations and the range of texts on which they are based, spanning from the innocuous to the irreverent, are guaranteed to captivate the reader of this series. Encompassing novels, children's literature, poems, works of non-fiction, and other forms of writing, the change of tone from one illustration to the next is sometimes quite unexpected. Both posts in this series will include descriptions of selected folios which I hope will give you a taste of the breadth and uniqueness of this collection.

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In Circulation

Jeweled Elegance

Holly Phillips, Associate Manager for Acquisitions, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2015

From Byzantine enameled earrings to Art Deco diamond necklaces, Watson Library has a wide range of publications about jewelry in its collection. Not only do the ornate jewels depicted inside the pages glisten in real life, but also many of the bindings and illustrations conveying the jewels sparkle themselves. As whimsical embossed or hand-colored illustrations, their liveliness gives a sense of the actual dimension and material of the jeweled objects they illustrate.

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In Circulation

Making Reality Virtual: Behind the Scenes in Watson Library's Digitization Lab

Robyn Fleming, Assistant Museum Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pixels. Megapixels. Zeroes and ones. Even here at the Met, where we are surrounded by beautiful works of art and books, digital is everywhere. While most of us would probably agree that no virtual experience matches the feeling of standing before a nineteenth-century masterpiece of French painting or leafing through an old tome (ah, that old-book smell!), we can also surely agree that having these collections freely available online benefits everyone—from art lovers to bibliophiles, from scholars to the merely curious.

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In Circulation

American Bound: Watson's Rare Trade Bindings, Part 1

Holly Phillips, Associate Manager for Acquisitions, Thomas J. Watson Library; Diane De Fazio, Volunteer, Thomas J. Watson Library; and William Blueher, Metadata and Collections Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015

To encourage scholarship and recognize the artistic contributions in the field of bookbinding design, Watson Library is developing a collection of nineteenth-century American trade bindings, purchased with funds from the Friends of Thomas J. Watson Library. This collection is currently composed of over three hundred decorative books dating from the 1870s through 1930. Spanning the Aesthetic, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco periods, the collection represents major designers, artists, themes, and techniques.

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In Circulation

Cube Your Enthusiasm: Early Cubist Source Material

Katherine Borkowski, Digital Resources and Instructional Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Have you ever looked at a work of art and thought to yourself, "What was the artist thinking?" How about an entire style or movement? Whether you are looking for theoretical enlightenment, practical guidance, or just a little context, the writings of artists, their supporters, and critics are valuable reference materials in the study of art. As the exhibition Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection nears the end of its run, it seems only fitting to take a moment to look to the Museum's libraries to explore our own collection of source materials regarding early Modern art.

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In Circulation

Nolen Library Welcomes Renowned Illustrator Brian Floca

Leah High, Public Services Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The picture book is often one of our first points of entry into the world of art appreciation and a natural companion to the museum experience. Fittingly, Nolen Library offers more than six hundred picture books for visitors to explore and enjoy together as part of their trip to the Met. Throughout the year, Nolen Library hosts special programs that give visitors of all ages (there are many grown-up picture-book lovers among us!) the opportunity to meet the talented creators of these timeless portals into the imagination.

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In Circulation

Lamps, Slippers, Trumpets, and More: Recently Digitized Trade Catalogs

Holly Phillips, Associate Manager for Acquisitions, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Trade catalogs have long been a way for businesses to show off their wares. Looking at these catalogs from past decades—sometimes centuries—gives us a glimpse into what the commercial and social life of earlier times was like. We can see what people used to wear, what sort of products they used to yearn for, and even how they lit their homes. In the Nagel-Chase catalog near the end of this post, you'll see that a "600 candle power" chandelier is offered up for sale, confronting you with an age in which illumination was still thought of in terms of candles—something almost totally alien to most of us today.

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In Circulation

If You Build It, One Million Pageviews Will Come: A Digital Collections Story

William Blueher, Metadata and Collections Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner's character famously hears the words, "If you build it, he will come." And sure enough, by the film's end Costner has built it and the people have come. It is Hollywood, so of course everything works out in the end.

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In Circulation

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, Your Branches Green Delight Us!

Dan Lipcan, Assistant Museum Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The holiday season brings fragrant trees into our homes, green wreaths attached to doors, and carpets of pine boughs to the dividers along the uptown stretches of Park Avenue near the Met. In concert with the season, I thought I'd highlight a few items from Watson Library's special collections that feature Christmas decorations and evergreen motifs.

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