Art/ Libraries and Research Centers/ Thomas J. Watson Library/ Using the Library

Using the Library



Register to use the Library

Welcome! Please use the form linked below to register for an account at the Thomas J. Watson Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Please visit Watson Library with a photo I.D. to complete the registration process and pick up your library card. If your registration is not completed within six months, you will need to register again.

Your contact information will be used only for communication related to library matters.

Register Here

Guidelines for Admission - Watson Library

Reading privileges in Watson Library are extended to Museum staff and visiting researchers wishing to do art historical or related research who are college-level and older. Appointments are not necessary.

Registration with photo ID is required. All library users must check coats, bags larger than 8 ½ x 11 inches and laptop cases in the lockers provided in Watson Library, or at the coat check in the Great Hall.

Researchers may use the Watson Library without paying Museum admission; to do so, speak with the Reception Desk at the main entrance at Fifth Avenue and 82nd St.

Watson Library is a closed stack (non-browsing) and non-circulating collection devoted primarily to the history of art. Requested books are paged for visitors and must be used in the library. Researchers who would prefer to use a browsing collection are welcome in the Nolen Library in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education, on the Ground Floor of the Museum. Nolen Library is open to all museum visitors.

Watson Library is located on the First Floor of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Watson Library’s electronic workstations are reserved for scholarly research purposes only and are not for recreational or personal use.


Coat and Bag Policy

Library users must check all outside coats and outerwear. Light jackets, cardigan sweaters, hoodies, and sport coats are allowed. We recognize that the reading room may be chilly at times, and that library users may opt to wear a light jacket or sweater to stay warm. However, we also ask that light jackets or sweaters, not be left on tables or draped on chairs. Library visitors who choose not to wear their light jacket or sweater will be asked to check it in a locker.

Library users must check all bags larger than 8 ½ x 11 inches and 2 ½ inches thick. In addition all laptop and tablet sleeves must be checked at the museum coat check or in Watson Library lockers. As a courtesy to library users, clear plastic bags are available for essential items to be brought into the library.

*Note: the above policies are at the discretion of library staff. Should questions arise, please direct inquiries to: Tony White, Florence and Herbert Irving Associate Chief Librarian,


Microfilm and Microfiche Policy

Please contact the Circulation Desk at (212) 650-2175 or to make an appointment to use our microfilm/fiche machines. Appointments are made for two-hour time slots.

You are able to print or download scanned images from our microfilm/fiche readers.

Interlibrary Services to Other Libraries

Watson Library Interlibrary Services participates as a lender in OCLC's WorldShare Interlibrary Loan.  Please check the OCLC Policies Directory (symbol MZA) for further information about our lending policies.  We primarily lend and provide scans to libraries within the RLG SHARES consortium.

As a last resort, we may send books or scans to other non-SHARES and non-OCLC libraries and institutions on a case-by-case basis.  Please note, however, that items listed as belonging to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Worldcat may not necessarily be held in Watson Library, and therefore may be ineligible for lending or photocopying.  Before submitting an ILL request, please check Watsonline, our online catalog, to confirm that the item you need is held in Watson Library and is not checked out or otherwise unavailable for use.

Fees and Payment:

For non-SHARES libraries, charges are as follows:

  • $25 for loans within the United States
  • $25 or 2.5 IFLA vouchers for article/chapter requests up to 50 pages (domestic and international)
  • $35 or 3.5 IFLA vouchers for international loans
  • Note: Fees may be waived for art libraries and other museums in exchange for reciprocal interlibrary borrowing/copying privileges.

Acceptable forms of payment are: OCLC ILL Fee Management (IFM), credit card, or IFLA voucher.

Submitting ILL Requests:

Please submit ILL requests via OCLC's WorldShare Interlibrary Loan.  To avoid automatic deflection, make sure we are the last/only lender in the string. We will normally respond to your request within five working days.

If you do not participate in OCLC WorldShare Interlibrary Loan, you may e-mail your request to  Provide as much information as possible about the item you need (including our call number and location), as well as your acceptance of our above-stated fees.  We will normally respond to your request within ten working days.

Contact Information

Interlibrary Services
Thomas J. Watson Library
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028
(212) 650-2444


Staff registration - Terms and Conditions of Library Privileges

By completing the registration form, you agree to:

  1. Adhere to all Watson Library policies and procedures, including hours of access.
  2. Check out all library books at the Watson Library Circulation Desk before taking them to your office or carrel.
  3. Do not remove Watson Library materials from the Museum building.
  4. Be responsible for all books checked out in your name (by you or your deputy borrower) until they are returned to the library and agree to reimburse Watson Library for all materials missing or not returned as determined by Watson Library staff.
  5. Make all books checked out in your name available for recall if requested by another Museum staff member with sign out privileges.
  6. Participate in a library orientation if you are to have Stacks Privileges.
  7. Handle all library books with care.

Stacks Privileges

The Watson Library stacks are open to authorized research staff only.

If you have not been approved for stacks privileges:

You may have materials paged from the stacks. You can pick up your paged items in the Reference Room once your are notified via email that they are available. For staff with sign-out privileges, items will be delivered to your department.

If you have been approved for stacks privileges:

You may use the Watson Library stacks during regular stacks hours. A stacks orientation from a library staff member is required before using the stacks. To schedule an orientation, please email


Interlibrary Services

Watson Library Interlibrary Services supports the research activities of Metropolitan Museum of Art staff by obtaining books, print or electronic copies of journal articles, and other texts that are not available from the Museum's libraries.

Met staff and volunteers can click here to login or create an account.

Please consult our Borrowing FAQ, which covers questions you may have regarding interlibrary loans and photocopies.

Contact Information

Interlibrary Services
Thomas J. Watson Library
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028
(212) 396-5221

Study Carrels

Study carrels are assigned to visiting Fellows, curators and researchers. For questions and concerns, please contact Tony White at extension x2442, or at

Deputy Borrower Privileges

A Deputy Borrower may borrow Watson Library materials on behalf of a Museum staff member. This status is appropriate for interns, volunteers, and assistants who borrow books for full-time permanent Museum staff. You may be a Deputy Borrower for someone else and also have checkout privileges in your own name.

Please inform the Circulation Desk that you are a Deputy Borrower when checking out materials for another person. If you are requesting materials from Watsonline, you must request with the last name and Museum ID number of the staff member for whom you are borrowing.

Please email the Watson Library Circulation Desk at to designate someone as a Deputy Borrower.

A library orientation is mandatory for all Deputy Borrowers before they can check books out. Please email to make an appointment.

Recall Policy and Instructions (Museum staff only)

Library materials that are checked out to Museum staff will be recalled if requested by another staff member, and there are no other copies available. Books checked out to Museum staff usually take 48 hours to retrieve, and some materials may not be available for recall. If you wish to recall an item with a "Checked Out" status in Watsonline, you must be a Museum staff member with sign-out privileges.

Follow these instructions to place the recall:
  1. When you find a record in Watsonline for an item that is checked out, click the Request or Recall button at the top of the screen.
  2. Log in with your last name and Museum ID number.
  3. You will receive a confirmation message on the screen. A notice will be sent to the patron who has the item checked out, requesting that it be returned. You will be notified by email when the item is available to be picked up at Watson or delivered to you.
  4. If you receive a notice that an item has been recalled for another Museum staff member to use, please return the item to Watson or reply to the email notice indicating that you would like the item picked up. If you would like the item returned to you, simply indicate this in a reply to the email notice. You will be notified when the book becomes available. If you have any questions, email
  5. If you need an urgent recall for a one-day loan, email with the citation.


Access to NYU and Columbia University Libraries

Columbia University Libraries

The Museum’s professional research staff may obtain access to all of Columbia’s libraries and check books out of those that have circulating collections.

To apply for Columbia library access, please contact Jessica Ranne, x2446,, or Jill Kehoe, x3841,

New York University Libraries

Institute of Fine Arts – Stephen Chan Library

The Museum's professional research staff are welcome to use the resources of the IFA Library on site (no borrowing privileges). There is no formal registration procedure.

Appointments are not necessary, but it is encouraged to contact the library in advance to request needed materials to be pulled.

Bobst Library

The Museum's professional research staff may use Bobst Library, apply for a semester-long card to use materials on site (no borrowing privileges).

Upon arrival at Bobst, present a valid museum ID at the Library Privileges Service Window (just to the left of the Bobst entrance). The pass issued will be valid for the duration of the semester (ending Dec. 31 or Aug. 31).

Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) Library

The Museum's professional research staff may consult library materials in the ISAW Library. No appointment or advanced notice is necessary.

Remote Access Instructions

All current Museum research staff and Volunteer Guides can access the majority of the library’s subscription databases remotely. This means that you can access our online resources from any computer with an internet connection from outside the Museum.

Remote Access Instructions:
  1. Connect to the Lita Annenberg & Joseph H. Hazen Center for Electronic Information Resources page.
  2. Browse or search for the name of the electronic resource or database, e.g. JSTOR. (Databases also may be found via keyword or title search in Watsonline.)
  3. In the resource record, click on the hyperlink adjacent to "Available Online:" or on the title.
  4. You will be prompted to log in with your Museum network account credentials.
  5. You will then be able to browse and search within the electronic resource.
  6. Please note that a few of the library’s electronic resources cannot be accessed remotely due to license agreements, or the fact that they require a password.

An illustrated guide to accessing electronic resources is available here.  

If you need remote access and do not have a Museum network account, please contact Watson Library at

Anyone with a library card at Watson Library is able to access their library account through Watsonline. This optional feature is accessible by simply logging in with your name and library card/Museum ID number. Click on the Login/Register link in the upper right portion of the webpage.

You can:
  • View your list of currently checked out items.
  • Renew books online from your desktop.
  • Save Watsonline searches.
  • Set up an alert for email notification of books newly cataloged in Watsonline in your subject area.
  • View a comprehensive “reading history” of all the items that have been checked out to you since June 2005.
  • Modify contact information.
  • View/cancel your holds. However, please note that if you have not placed a request for an item, this link will not show up. If you no longer need the items listed, you may choose to Cancel All Holds or Selected Items.
  • View checked out Items by date checked out or date due.

Please alert the circulation desk staff if you have questions about your list of checked out books or holds at, or 212-570-3175.

Direct any other questions or comments to the Watson Library Reference team at 212-650-2225, or


High-resolution images for publication or exhibition

When possible, Watson Library will supply researchers with high-resolution (300 dpi) TIFFs from items in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries’ collections for publication or exhibition.

For requests to publish images of works of art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, please consult the Image and Data Resources section of The Met’s website.

Fees and payment

For standard requests: $25 per existing TIFF, or $50 per TIFF if new photography is required. Additional charges may apply. Payment must be received in advance by credit card. We accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Fees are subject to change and non-refundable. All sales are final.

Copyright and permissions

Images may be used only as authorized by law. Laws or restrictions other than copyright (e.g., rights of privacy or publicity, trademark) may apply. Watson Library can neither grant nor deny permission to copy or publish photographs and other reproductions purchased from this office. We will not investigate or determine the rights status of works; will not conduct copyright research; and do not have additional information regarding copyright beyond what appears in the bibliographic record for a particular item. It is your responsibility to obtain whatever copyright or other permissions that may be required from an artist, their agent, estate or any other third party rights holder.

By accepting or using these reproductions, you agree to indemnify The Metropolitan Museum of Art and hold it harmless against any and all claims, demands and/or actions of any nature, including the expenses thereof, arising as a result of your use of the reproductions. By proceeding with a reproduction request you hereby agree to these terms.

Placing requests

To request a high-resolution scan for publication or exhibition, please create an ILLiad account here. Once you have created an account, please fill out the High-Resolution Image Request form with as much information as possible about the image you need. You must submit a separate request for each TIFF needed.

All requests are subject to approval. Once we confirm we have the item you need and it is in suitable condition to be photographed (if new photography is required), and that we are otherwise able to fulfill the request, we will send you an invoice with payment instructions. Upon receipt of payment, our goal is to deliver the TIFF via an online file transfer service within 10 working days.

Credit lines

You agree to use the following credit line for each image provided to you through Watson Library’s Image Reproduction Service: “Image provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Thomas J. Watson Library.” If any additional credit information is required for a particular image, you will be notified at the time of invoicing.

In-person photography

Researchers visiting Watson Library in person are welcome to use their own cameras and tripods to photograph items from the Libraries’ collection at no cost. Flash and studio lighting are not permitted.

The same copyright and permissions policy described above applies to in-person photography.

Requests to create videos of any kind inside Watson Library must be made through The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Communications Office at 212-570-3951 or

Self-service downloading from Watson Library's Digital Collections

Researchers who find scans of materials online via Watson Library's Digital Collections site are welcome to download images using the site's functionality at no cost. Rights information for these materials is expressed in the Copyright Status, Copyright Notice, and Copyright Information fields in the digital object record, and was as accurate as possible as of the time the item was made available online.

The same copyright and permissions and credit line policies described above apply to images downloaded from Digital Collections.

Low-resolution scans for research purposes

Researchers needing low-resolution scans from items in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries’ collections for personal use and who cannot come to Watson Library in person are strongly encouraged to request these through their local library’s interlibrary loan (ILL) office, since this service is often free of charge. If that is not feasible, when possible Watson Library will scan and deliver the requested pages as a PDF. For standard requests, the fee for this service is $10 for up to 10 pages, or $15 for 11-30 pages. Additional charges may apply. Payment must be received in advance by credit card. We accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

To request low-resolution scans for research purposes, please create an ILLiad account here. Once you have created an account, please fill out the Article Request form with as much information as possible about the pages you need.

Once we confirm that we have the item you need, that it is in suitable condition to be scanned, and that we are able to fulfill the request, we will send you an invoice with payment instructions. Upon receipt of payment we will deliver the PDF to your ILLiad account. This is typically completed within 10 working days. You will receive an email notification from Watson Library Interlibrary Services when your PDF is available for retrieval.

Contact information

For questions about the Thomas J. Watson Library Reproduction Service, please contact the Reference Desk at, or (212) 650-2225.