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Tuesday–Friday: 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

For more information or to ask a reference question, please fill out the Reference Questions form, or call 215-684-7650 or send an e-mail to .

Access to the Library is free. Visitors may request a Researcher’s Pass from the guard at the Perelman Building entrance.

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As one of the major art reference libraries in the United States, the Museum Library houses approximately 200,000 books, auction catalogues, and periodicals dating from the sixteenth century to the present. Reflecting the Museum's rich and distinctive collections, the Library's holdings focus on European, American, and Asian painting and sculpture; furniture and decorative arts; arms and armor; costume and textiles; prints, drawings, and photographs; and modern and contemporary art. The Library also subscribes to a growing collection of electronic resources, available on workstations in the Reading Room.


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National Digital Stewardship Residency

The Museum, in partnership with ARLIS/NA, is implementing a National Digital Stewardship Residency program for art information professionals through generous funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) via a 2016 Laura Bush 21st-Century Librarian Program grant.

The National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) program fosters digital information expertise through meaningful hands-on experiences. NDSR Art supports art librarians and visual resource curators in their endeavor to provide long-term, durable access to born-digital works of art and publications, images, institutional repositories, and interactive technologies. NDSR Art enhances skills to ensure quality access, presentation, and preservation of our digital cultural heritage for twenty-first-century users and future generations. Over the course of two years, eight residents will be matched with host institutions across the country for twelve-month paid residencies.

Visit the NDSR Art website for more information.

Library Installation

Looking Back on African Art:  A Partnership of Two Museums
An installation view of the 1986 exhibition African Sculpture from The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania
Looking Back on African Art: A Partnership of Two Museums
May 13–summer 2016
The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Penn Museum are two of the world’s great institutions for the preservation, study, and display of art, and in this city their unique collections coexist in complementary ways. Founded in 1876, the Philadelphia Museum of Art generally shows art from Europe, the Americas, and Asia made during the last two thousand years, up to contemporary art. The Penn Museum (also known as the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology or, simply, the University Museum), founded in 1887, has a broader geographic scope with a focus on mostly older material, such as ancient artifacts.

Yet these two museums have consistently found an overlapping interest in traditional art from the African continent. Outside of a small number of sculptures and textiles, the Philadelphia Museum of Art does not have a sizable collection of such works. Instead, over the years it has presented several special exhibitions devoted to the subject, including three—in 1969, 1982, and 1986—of objects borrowed directly from the Penn Museum’s important African collections.

As the Philadelphia Museum of Art celebrates another exhibition of African art organized in cooperation with the Penn Museum, the documents and photographs in these cases look back on the three earlier partnerships between these neighboring institutions and on the informal division that has helped shape their respective collections.

This installation is offered in conjunction with Creative Africa, a season devoted to African art and design

The Library Reading Room, second floor, Perelman Building

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