Search the Library and Archives
The Phillips Collection library supports research on works of art in the museum's permanent collection, special exhibitions, and the history of the museum. The library collection includes about 9,500 books, which focus on 19th- and 20th-century European and American art. Among the books are monographs on artists whose works are in the collection, exhibition catalogues, museum permanent collection catalogues, and books on photography, as well as Phillips Collection publications from the 1920s to the present. Vertical files provide information on individual artists, art subjects, and art institutions in the form of small exhibition catalogues, articles, and reviews. The library also subscribes to several online electronic resources.
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Make an Appointment
Library and archives resources are available by appointment and are non-circulating.
Call 202-387-2151 x212 to arrange an appointment with the librarian.
Research hours: Tuesday‒Friday, 10 am‒4:30 pm
An appointment is necessary to consult the subscription databases, which are only available on-site. This list also includes resources on the Phillips's institutional history and some selected online resources on related topics.
Phillips Collection Resources
On-site Subscription Databases
- Art Index Retrospective: A citation database for international art publications from 1929 to 1984. Indexes articles, exhibition and book reviews, and published art reproductions.
- ARTstor: Online library of nearly 1,000,000 images for use in studying the history of art and humanities.
- JSTOR: Searchable access to full-text articles from over 1,000 scholarly journals.
- Oxford Art Online: Includes Grove Art Online, an art encyclopedia covering Western and non-Western art, including articles, biographies, images, and The Dictionary of Art, as well as The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms.
Selected Art Resources Links
- Archives of American Art: A collection of 16 million items supporting study of the history of visual art in America, including letters, photographs, diaries, oral history interviews, sketchbooks, and other documents.
- Art Inventories Catalog: From the Smithsonian American Art Museum, a searchable combination of the Inventory of American Paintings and the Inventory of American Sculpture, which include more than 400,000 works in public and private collections nationwide.
- Dictionary of Art Historians: A scholarly biographical database
- MICA Text Finder: Searchable index of art texts, such as essays, critical and theoretical texts, manifestos, artist statements, and interviews.
- Van Gogh Letters: Highly searchable digital collection of all 902 letters to and from Vincent van Gogh, featuring new translations and transcriptions, digital images, and cross-references. Includes concordances and historical contexts.
- Worldcat: A network of over 10,000 libraries worldwide. Useful for locating items in other local public or institutional libraries.
Other Museum Library Catalogs
- Arcade: New York Art Resources Consortium: Brooklyn Museum Library & Archives, Frick Art Reference Library, Museum of Modern Art Library
- Getty Research Institute Research Library Catalog: Includes excellent collection of books on photography.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art Library
- National Gallery of Art
- Smithsonian Collections Search Center
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get my work of art appraised?
Like most museums, the Phillips does not offer appraisal or authentication services. We recommend that you consult the Appraisers Association of America. The Museum of Modern Art also has an excellent collection of resources.
I'd like to learn more about the history of The Phillips Collection. Where should I begin?
For a brief overview, see the history section of this website.
The Eye of Duncan Phillips: A Collection in the Making, edited by Erika Passantino and published by The Phillips Collection in association with Yale University Press in 1999, is the most scholarly publication on the museum's collection and history. The product of more than 20 years of research, it contains essays on Duncan Phillips's development as a collector and critic, as well as detailed entries on several hundred works in the museum's permanent collection.
Where can I learn more about the architecture of The Phillips Collection?
Dates and architects for each part of the museum:
- Phillips house, 1897, Hornblower & Marshall
- First floor addition (Music Room), 1907, Hornblower & Marshall
- Second floor addition (Main Gallery), 1920, McKim, Mead & White
- Fourth floor addition (Marjorie Phillips's studio, later used by the former Phillips Gallery Art School), 1923, Frederick H. Brooke
- Fourth floor renovation and addition, 1983-84, Arthur Cotton Moore
- Annex, 1960, Frederick R. King of Wyeth and King
- Renovation and expansion of annex (Goh Annex), 1989, Arthur Cotton Moore
- Sant Building addition, 2006, Cox, Graae and Spack
Additional information is available in The Eye of Duncan Phillips. On-site researchers can also consult the library's vertical files.
Can you provide information on the name changes of The Phillips Collection?
- Phillips Memorial Art Gallery (July 1920‒May 1923)
- Phillips Memorial Gallery (May 1923‒October 1948)
- The Phillips Gallery (October 1948‒July 1961)
- The Phillips Collection (July 1961‒present)
Who are some of the people in Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party, and where can I learn more about the painting?
A brief introduction to the painting is available in the collection page of the website. The Phillips Collection also offers a Luncheon of the Boating Party teaching kit. For additional information, see the entry on Luncheon of the Boating Party in The Eye of Duncan Phillips or refer to Impressionists on the Seine: A Celebration of Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Eliza E. Rathbone et al., published by Counterpoint in association with The Phillips Collection, 1996.
Where can I get reliable information on artists and on the history of art?
The Dictionary of Art is a good place to start. It includes entries on the art of all time periods and cultures. Although most of the artists it includes are well known, the web version, part of Oxford Art Online, is regularly updated with entries on additional artists and art subjects, includes helpful search features for related articles, and contains thousands more images than the print version. The library owns the print version of the Dictionary of Art and subscribes to Oxford Art Online, one of several electronic resources which may be used on-site.
What book do you recommend for doing initial research on lesser known artists?The Benezit Dictionary of Artists, which comprises 14 volumes, is an excellent place to begin. It contains short entries on artists of all nationalities and time periods. Most art museum libraries, including the Phillips library, have Benezit.