Art/ Libraries and Research Centers/ Thomas J. Watson Library Digital Collections

Thomas J. Watson Library Digital Collections

The primary mission of the Watson Library Digitization Initiative is to expand access to the Museum's rare and unique research materials by developing, supporting, and promoting a distinctive digital collection of these items.

The initiative targets materials that fall outside the parameters of other major digitization efforts, such as Google Books or the Internet Archive, and makes them accessible to support the scholarly endeavors of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's staff as well as an international community of researchers.

The cover of a book, with a detail of a colorful Islamic manuscript painting, titled: A King's Book of Kings

This collection contains Metropolitan Museum of Art publications from the Museum's Libraries and Archives. The majority of publications from 1869 though 1983, along with a growing number of later titles, are part of this collection. In addition, over 400 full-text books from MetPublications, dating from 1964 to the present, are included here.

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American Industrial Arts Exhibitions

A close-up of an Art Deco-like abstract design in light green, dark green, and black

Organized by Richard F. Bach from 1917 to 1940, the American Industrial Arts exhibitions featured the work of contemporary industrial designers and manufacturers. Through this landmark series, The Met led the way in encouraging good design and promoting modern, American decorative art in the early 20th century. In addition to the pamphlets, there are related circulars sent to potential exhibitors, as well as other publications by Bach and his contemporaries.

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Annual Reports, 1872–1901 (Unabridged Versions)

Text: "Metropolitan Museum of Art. Annual Report of the Trustees of the Association"

Between 1872 and 1901, The Met published two versions of its Annual Report—one full, and one abbreviated for Museum Members. The full reports in this collection include financial statements, officers of the Museum, annual Member lists, and updates on Museum publications, classes, and lectures. All of the Museum's Annual Reports are available through JSTOR (subscription required), and the five most recent Annual Reports are available in Policies and Documents.

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Collection Catalogues

A close-up of the inside corner of a courtyard encircled by a stone arcade with a low, angled roof with terracotta tiles

Collection catalogues document the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Most focus on individual curatorial departments, though some highlight major works from across the Museum. This is a growing digital collection.

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Catalogues of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments

A page from a sketchbook with drawings of musical instruments and notes relating to each instrument, including fragments of hand-drawn staff with notes

In the early part of the 20th century, Mrs. John Crosby Brown donated an extensive collection of musical instruments to The Met, laying the foundation for the formation of the Department of Musical Instruments several decades later. This comprehensive set of catalogues documents the early years of this important collection as it grew and evolved.

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Publications of the Egyptian Expedition

A brightly colored facsimile of an ancient Egyptian wall scene including one female and one male sitting figure, and one female and one male standing figure; the standing figures seem to be presenting the sitting figures with gifts

In 1906, The Met's Board of Trustees voted to establish an Egyptian expedition to conduct archaeological excavations at several sites along the Nile. The publications resulting from those excavations, which continue today, are featured in this comprehensive digital collection.

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Exhibition Catalogues

A cover of a catalogue with the text: "Artists for Victory: An Exhibition of Contemporary American Art" and an illustration of a winged, headless, armless ancient Greek statue of a goddess

Exhibition catalogues document the temporary exhibitions that have taken place at The Met throughout its nearly 150-year history. While this is a growing digital collection, please note that due to copyright restrictions, not all exhibition catalogues can be made available online.

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Family Guides and Art Hunts

Cover of a brochure featuring a black and white tiger and the title: "The Wild Ones in Korean Art"

The 130 items in this collection of Family Guides and Art Hunts represent more than 30 years of Museum educators' efforts to encourage children of all ages to "look at the [artworks] closely, analyze what you see, and to become curious about the meaning and functions" of art objects. They use elements of play—like scavenger hunts, crossword puzzles, drawing tasks, and lots and lots of questions—to encourage close looking and imaginative identification.

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Management and Policy Documents

A document which reads: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ballot for Officers for the Year ending May, 1874

The Management and Policy Documents collection consists of publications related to the administration, finances, and operations of The Met, published primarily in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is a growing digital collection; for the most up-to-date information on the Museum's organization and management, see About The Met.

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Charters, Constitutions, and/or By-laws

An official document which reads: The Metropolitan Art-Museum In the City of New York Proceedings of a Meeting Held at the Theater of the Union League Club, Tuesday Evening, November 23, 1869

This collection contains The Met's original charter from 1870 as well as numerous revisions to its constitution and by-laws. This is a growing digital collection; for the most up-to-date information on the Museum's organization and management, see About The Met.

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Metropolitan Museum of Art Press Releases, 1940–2009

An official, typed, Museum press release announcing the postponement of the exhibitoin: Art and the Fourth Estate

A searchable collection of all Metropolitan Museum of Art press releases from 1940 to 2009. Press releases from 1998 to the present can be found in the Press section of the Museum website.

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A black-and-white photograph of a large gallery with Medieval sculptures against the wall set up for a party; guests sit at a dozen large circular banquet tables facing a dias festooned with swags

On January 19, 1946, The Met hosted a luncheon to commemorate its 75th anniversary. The speakers touched upon the history of the Museum; its place in New York, America, and the world; and the development of future plans for the Museum. This collection includes photographs of the luncheon and sound recordings of the addresses delivered.

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A bright red leather book binding decorated with engraved floral motifs painted dark green, and gilt borders

Items from the Museum Libraries about bookbinding and book collecting, including photographs of fine bindings from the Libraries' collections.

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A page from an album with small thumbnail-sized black-and-white photographs of antique chairs, each labeled with an inventory number

This collection features an estimated 16,000 object cards from the legendary Brummer Gallery. Accompanying the cards are four inventory and sale binders, as well as some 4,000 address cards for the gallery's clients, contemporary artists, staff, service providers, art critics, and scholars.

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A black-and-white photograph of a low stone building with two wings faced by arches and a large central, four-story tower with tall, narrow arched windows

This collection includes images from selected photographic albums and finding aids to various archival collections in The Cloisters Library and Archives.

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Two sketches: On the left, a sketch of a woman with short, black curled hair, wearing a form-fitting black blouse tucked into a flared beige skirt with a narrow waist; on the right, a light pencil sketch of the back of the ensemble

Browse or search all digitized texts and images from the collections of The Costume Institute and the Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library at The Met.

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Bergdorf Goodman Sketches

A sketch of a slender woman seen from the back wearing an open-back dress in fuchsia and orange, and other sketches of similar dresses

This collection contains original fashion sketches that depict day and evening dresses, coats, suits, millinery, and lingerie available in Bergdorf's custom salon during the years 1929–52. Designers represented in this collection include Chanel, Dior, and Schiaparelli, among many others.

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Children's Fashion Plates

A colored print of a Victorian woman in a green dress, sitting on a red sofa, with her son standing in a kilt, holding a shotgun, to her right, and her daughter seated next to her on her left

A collection of fashion plates illustrating children's fashion.

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A woodblock print in black and white of a house on the shoreline with two men and a dog scouring tidepools; above them float the words: "A PanhouseAratazana" in a banner

This collection primarily consists of 18th-century Portuguese morality poems and plays, reports, and sumptuary laws warning about the perils of fashion fads ("dandyism").

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Costume Institute Fashion Plates

A colorful drawing of four early twentieth century women in various dress styles

Fashion plates from the collections of The Costume Institute and the Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Two Centuries of French Fashion

A female miniature doll dressed in a white mutton-sleeved blouse, and a plaid skirt with a very narrow waist; beside her is a mid-nineteenth-century bicycle

A collection of 31 photographic prints depicting "a collection of mannequin dolls, created by the Syndicat de la Couture de Paris, which were part of the Gratitude Train exhibit sent in 1949 to the people of the United States by the people of France as a token of their appreciation of American assistance."

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Headgear Fashion Plates

A colored print showing nine Victorian womans' hats

A collection of fashion plates illustrating headgear fashion.

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Mardi Gras Fashion Plates

A colorful print of a young man wearing a costume with wide sleeves and yellow polka dots; the green collar is shaped like leaves and he wears a hat with green leaves topped by a small upside-down strawberry

A collection of fashion plates illustrating Mardi Gras fashion.

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Men's Fashion Plates

A colorful print of a nineteenth-century dandy dressed in a blue mutton-chop sleeved coat with a very narrow waist and a black top hat

A collection of fashion plates illustrating men's fashion.

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Clans of the Scottish Highlands 1847, Fashion Plates

A colorful print of a man in a red plaid kilt and shawl, yellow vest, and white shirt with his hat in his left hand and a sword brandished in his right

A collection of fashion plates illustrating clans of the Scottish Highlands fashion.

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Theatre Costume Fashion Plates

A colorful sketch of a two women as seen from the front; the figure on the left is dressed in a feminine clown costume with a large ruff, and the one on the right is dressed in a sleeveless gown with a narrow waist, high ruffled collar, and long white gloves with black ruffles at the elbows to match

A collection of fashion plates illustrating theatre costume fashion.

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Wedding Fashion Plates

A colorful print of a bride dressed in a modern gown with classical elements

A collection of fashion plates illustrating wedding fashion.

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Women's Fashion Plates

A print of a woman in a low-cut, form fitting dress, with a low, wide, brimmed veiled hat and a turquoise-blue bead necklace against an abstract yellow and white ground

A collection of fashion plates illustrating women's fashion.

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A close-up of a clear rock crystal carving with figures in fluid shapes surrounded by flowing, swirling, ribbon-like elements

Digital and digitized auction catalogues for current and very recent sales. Please note that due to copyright restrictions, access to these catalogues is restricted to computers within The Met.

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A portrait of silhouette paper cut-outs of figures in a nineteenth-century room: Four standing male figures, one seated male figure, and three busts in profile in pendants hanging on the wall

Roentgen family correspondence, chiefly letters from Roentgen to his son Philipp Jacob and to his brother Johannes, as well as business documents, illustrated silhouettes, and photographs.

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A black-and-white photograph of an older man in military costume and a woman dressed in a day suit, descending a staircase

On April 2, 1946, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was made an honorary fellow for life of The Met. This collection includes captioned photographs of the ceremony and sound recordings of the addresses delivered at the ceremony.

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A pencil sketch of an intricate lacy geometric pattern

This collection consists of several thousand items from Herzfeld's archives, including photograph negatives, photographs, original drawings and paintings, clippings, correspondence, maps, sketchbooks, notebooks, squeezes, and manuscripts of scholarly work.

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A page from a Japanese illustrated book showing an interior scene of a gathering of Japanese women

This collection includes 18th- and 19th-century Japanese illustrated books from the holdings of The Met's Department of Asian Art. The department has more than 650 of these books, which have had very little exposure to the public.

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A black-and-white graphic image of a woman alone in a sailboat in the middle of a body of water; in the background is a mountain-like island and dark storm clouds

Knoedler & Company, established in 1857, was among the most important art dealers in New York City. This collection—a collaboration with Knoedler & Company, the Frick Art Reference Library, the Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives, and the Museum of Modern Art Library—includes 898 catalogues and checklists published by Knoedler between 1869 and 1946.

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A black-and-white image of a Cezanne-like painting of a still life with a bottle, glass, plate, knife and place mat on a wood table

The Macbeth Gallery was the first New York gallery to specialize in American art. This collection, a collaboration with the Frick Art Reference Library, includes over 450 exhibition checklists and pamphlets published between 1895 and 1953.

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A drawing of a flamingo (on the left) and a polar bear wearing glasses (on the right); the polar bear is holding a note and seems to be reading it aloud to the flamingo; between the pair of animals is handwriting, which says: Thanks [illegible] for the Tickets. I will send [remainder cut off].

Browse or search all manuscripts from the collections of the Thomas J. Watson Library and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives.

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Samuel Putnam Avery Papers

A portrait of an elderly man with bushy eyebrows, a long, full beard and mustache, in late nineteenth-century business dress

The Avery Papers consist of several sub-collections of papers and correspondence from, to, and about Samuel Putnam Avery. Avery was an art dealer, rare book and print collector, wood engraver, and founder and lifelong trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Spencer Bickerton Collection

Ticket with the seal of the Royal Academy London reading, "Monday 7th day of December 1812 Admit to the Lecture this Evening Mr. Borrington [signed illegible R.A] The lecture will begin at 8 o'clock"

One hundred thirty-eight autograph letters from a variety of artists and others, and 38 bills, tickets, receipts, and other items. Much of the material concerns 19th-century British engravers, authors, and the Royal Academy. This collection was assembled by Spencer Bickerton—collector, donor, and patron of The Met—and donated to the Museum in 1933.

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Biographical Letters from Distinguished Painters Represented in The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Others

A handwritten letter dated October 28 1896

A collection of more than 100 autograph and typed letters from living artists dating from 1896 through 1909, addressed to painter, curator, and Museum administrator George Henry Story (1835–1922).

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Mary Elizabeth Brown Papers, ca. 1885–ca. 1909

A hand-written inventory list in elegant script

Mary Elizabeth Brown (Mrs. John Crosby Brown) was a collector of musical instruments. This collection contains Mrs. Brown's correspondence with subject experts and curators worldwide.

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Charles Warren Cram Papers

A page with letterhead in elaborate varied type, which reads: "Lithographic Henry Sicard Paris" followed by the date in handwriting in black ink and illegible writing in the same hand

Charles Warren Cram was an American living in Paris in the 1880s; he appears to have acted as an art dealer. The papers, primarily letters from Paris-based artists but also including receipts and visiting cards, concern the availability and price of paintings, or suggest that Cram visit the studio.

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Daniel Cady Eaton: Lectures, 1896

A typewritten document with handwritten notations, at the top, in script are the words: "Greek IX [illegible]"

D. [Daniel] Cady Eaton (1837–1912) was a professor of art history at Yale from 1869 to 1876, and again from 1902 to 1909, when he was made emeritus. This manuscript collection consists of typescript copies of 16 slide lectures on Egyptian, Near Eastern, Greek, and medieval art.

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Frank Edwin Elwell Papers, or, American Sculptors' Letters

A typewritten letter dated December 18, 1903, on letterhead which says "Aspet, Windsor, Vermont"

Elwell was curator of ancient and modern statuary at The Met between 1903 and 1905. Two sets of documents assembled by Elwell comprise this collection: American sculptors' letters, 1892–1904; and letters from sculptors, from the correspondence files of the curator of ancient and modern statuary.

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Collection of Early 19th-Century French Documents, 1813–1841

An official looking, handwritten French document  with seals, dated September 10, 1813

This collection is primarily composed of legal documents relating to the sale of residences in the Département de la Seine-et-Marne, France, during the first half of the 19th century.

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Robert Gilmor Letters to Charles Graff, 1825–1844

A handwritten letter dated May 10, 1837

Correspondence between Gilmor and Graff, regarding their respective philosophies and activities related to purchasing and collecting art.

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Sadakichi Hartmann: Papers, 1899–1937

A sepia-toned photograph of a man with floppy, disheveled hair and trim mustache dressed in an early-twentieth century suit and tie; he appears to be caught in the middle of doing something and is looking up at someone or something out of the frame

Includes a 1926 manuscript about Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847–1917), correspondence with Alfred Stieglitz and other artists, unpublished manuscripts, and photographs of Hartmann.

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Havemeyer Family Papers Relating to Art Collecting, 1901–1922

Two hand-written pages from a journal

Letters, writings, notes, and ephemera regarding the Havemeyers' art-collecting activities between 1901 and 1922. The majority consists of correspondence from art dealers and agents who were working on behalf of the Havemeyers to build their renowned art collection. There is also a significant portion of correspondence with the renowned American painter and printmaker Mary Cassatt.

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William H. Lippincott Letters, 1887–1917

A page from a program dated November 20, 1917, titled: The National Arts Club American Artist's War Emergency Fund

A collection of correspondence addressed to, or collected by, William H. (Henry) Lippincott (1849–1920), an American painter, born in Philadelphia and active in Pont-Aven (Brittany, France) and New York.

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Henry Gurdon Marquand Papers

A cablegram which reads: The Anglo-American Telegraph Company Limited established, 1806; Four Direct Cable Routes The United States of America and Europe. Cablegram received at No. 8 Broad Street, New York 21 February 189[illegible]

New York financier Henry Gurdon Marquand (1819–1902) was a member of the Provisional Committee to establish a museum of art in New York City. He soon became an early trustee of The Met, its treasurer, and ultimately its second president. This collection contains correspondence with artists and dealers, receipts, inventories, and notes that document his activity as an art collector and patron of the Museum.

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Frank Blackwell Mayer: Correspondence, 1822–1888

A densely handwritten letter written on both sides of the paper, with small diagrams incorporated between paragraphs, and folded in on itself to make the envelope

Frank Blackwell Mayer's correspondence refers to art-related subjects as well as family and personal matters.

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Mayor Family Correspondence, 1862–1928

A handwritten letter with a colorful illustration at the bottom of the page, of a pink monkey driving a yellow Roman-style chariot driven by four unruly horses colored blue, brown, and pink

About 200 pages of letters addressed to the family of A. Hyatt Mayor (1901–1980), who worked in the Museum's Department of Prints from 1932 to 1966, succeeding William Ivins as curator in 1946.

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Miscellaneous Papers, 1781–1971

A handwritten document titled: The last will and testament of Duncan Phyfe; will dated [illegible] 1854

This collection includes the personal correspondence of important 19th-century American and European artists, and letters of important political and social figures. The collection also contains rare manuscripts including a public invitation to Ludwig van Beethoven's funeral in 1827. Of special interest is the last will and testament of Duncan Phyfe.

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R.T.N. Collection of Heraldic Papers, Old Leases, etc., 19th Century

An official looking document stating: Eligible Leasehold Investment: a Compact Estate in the vicinity of the great northern terminus producing a set annual income of 232 pounds, 0 shillings, 0 pennies to be sold together or separately, on the right, and on the left, a pen and ink drawing of a woman standing in an archway with a hand-written caption underneath

This collection includes an assortment of 19th-century papers, primarily about heraldry and heraldic devices. Several additional documents relate to brass, monuments, a gentleman named John N. Frost, and property leases.

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Letters from James Abbott McNeill Whistler

A handwritten note written by James Abbott McNeill Whistler in black ink on stationary embossed with the seal and name of the Arts Club Hanover square

Watson Library owns over 35 letters from James Abbott McNeill Whistler to the art critic, collector, and dealer Théodore Duret. Sometimes in French, sometimes in English, Whistler asks Duret to visit, sends him clippings from the newspaper, and passes along art-world gossip. Also included are a few letters from Whister to other correspondents.

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The cover of a catalogue, in red and black ink on white paper, depicting a woman grasping her long red hair high in her left hand and holding a book in her right hand; the catalogue is titled: Photographic Salon 1899

This collection contains 103 catalogues of Pictorialist photography exhibitions held between 1891 and 1914. These catalogues, donated to The Met by Alfred Stieglitz, are housed in the collections of the Joyce F. Menschel Photography Library.

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A colorful frontispiece of a book with Cyrillic writing in red and black, with a wide border decorated with leafy arabesques and a nude figure in the lower right corner

Included in this collection are books from the Thomas J. Watson Library that were published primarily in Russia or the Ukraine in the 19th or early 20th century. The selection here reflects a wide array of themes and formats, ranging from albums of photographs, illustrated books, exhibition catalogues, and catalogues of private and institutional collections.

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A print depicting an Italian four-piece table service comprised of a table knife, two forks for fruit, and a tongs

Browse or search all digital and digitized rare and important works held in the Thomas J. Watson Library and other curatorial department libraries at The Met. Access to some materials in this collection is restricted to computers within the Museum.

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The Chromolithograph

A close-up of Celtic decoration and script on a black ground framed in yellow

This 19th-century British serial is a journal of "art, literature, decoration and the accomplishments." It lives up to this broad self-description by providing a variety of exhibition reviews, artists' biographies, articles on artistic themes, technical essays, "illustrated lessons," and chromolithographic prints, providing a glimpse into the artistic, literary, and commercial milieu of 1860s Victorian England.

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Rare Books in The Robert Goldwater Library

A close-up of a page divided in half with a red border and each half is decorated with a line drawing of the same kangaroo-like animal; on the left: one yellow, and on the right: one white white; each picture is framed in red with small pictograms surrounding

This collection includes treatises on architectural monuments, manuscripts, decoration, traditional society, and material culture. These 19th- and early 20th-century works illustrate the transition in the Western perceptions of "primitive" art and archaeology from the anthropological to the ethnological.

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Kraushaar Gallery Exhibition Catalogues

The cover of a catalogue with a black-and-white portrait painting of a young girl in a lacy hat and text which reads: An Important Collection of Paintings

A collection of 70 exhibition catalogues published between 1920 and 1936, when the Kraushaar Gallery was located at 680 Fifth Avenue in New York City.

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Rare Books in The Onassis Library for Hellenic and Roman Art

A drawing of a circular medallion decorated with a parade of griffins encircling a central boss

This collection consists of rare monographs, auction catalogues, museum collection catalogues, and archaeological treatises on Egyptian and classical antiquities including ancient Greek vases, paintings, sculptures, pottery, and glassware published in the mid-18th century through the early 19th century.

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Photo Albums

A sepia-toned photograph of the interior of a mosque, including a structure with an onion-shaped dome decorated with carved Arabic script along the outside

A diverse collection of bound and unbound photograph albums, ranging from the building of The Met Cloisters to a 19th-century Egyptian honeymoon.

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A black line drawing of a fragment of a relief sculpture of woman in draped clothing and cuneiform-like writing

This collection comprises administrative paperwork; concession papers; correspondence; field notes; glass-plate negatives; large-scale architectural drawings, site plans, and tracings; photographs; and sketches documenting The Met's excavations of late Roman and early Byzantine sites in the northern district of the Kharga Oasis.

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A highly detailed drawing of a stained glass lamp in the form of an ornate and stylized tree cluster of treen with a canopy of leaves and flowers

Late 19th- and early 20th-century publications and ephemeral materials from Tiffany Studios, Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company, Tiffany and Company, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. The original items are held in the Department of American Art and the Thomas J. Watson Library at The Met.

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The cover of a brochure with the words: Lustre Lumiere in Art Nouveau-style writing

A collection of international manufacturer, wholesale, and retail catalogues from the 18th century to the present with an emphasis on the decorative arts, especially Art Nouveau and Art Deco design. The types of catalogues range from fashion, silks, textiles, and wallpaper to furniture, industrial design, jewelry, and ceramics.

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