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.
Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The Cooper Hewitt reopened in December to much fanfare, after an ambitious three-year gut renovation. The Atlantic described it as "the museum of the future," and singled out its new interactive pen as a "godsend." Several Watson librarians recently ventured up Fifth Avenue to see what the future looks like and to try out these new pens. Among our contingent was Tina Lidogoster, who used her pen to design a futuristic Watson Library "lamp," seen above. After our visit, she was able to access her design online, which she then shared with me so I could post it on our new Instagram account.
Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Watson Library has digitized its collection of eighteenth-century French auction catalogs, which are among the oldest sales catalogs owned by the library. Published mainly in the 1770s and 1780s, these catalogs provide us with a view of the world of art auctions in the decades leading up to the French Revolution. An invaluable source for provenance research, this historical collection also illuminates how artworks were described in an age where auction catalogs were generally devoid of illustrations.
Posted: Wednesday, March 11, 2015
In our technology-saturated world, photographs are everywhere. Images are so easy to capture and share with friends and family around the world that most of us take them for granted. But in the mid-nineteenth century, when photography was still a relatively new medium, documentary photographers like Charles Thurston Thompson (1816–1868), were able to use new photographic technology to bring images from all over the world back home with them.
Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2015
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.
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 nonfiction, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.