How to research a work of art

Do First

See the original artwork, if at all possible – view/examine it carefully.
Take notes on your observation. You may wish to pay attention to subject matter, materials and techniques, physical condition, form and style (elements such as line, shape, contrast, color, and their organization in terms of composition, balance, rhythm, proportion, unity, etc.).
If the work is in a public collection, note its identification from the information label, including accession number.
Download an image of the art work or buy reproduction (postcard) in the museum shop if possible.

VIsit Research Websites
QC Art Library website

Best: Search by keyword in all fields - e.g. “[artist’s first name] and [last name]”
If the artwork is famous, you may include word(s) from its title - e.g., “manet and olympia”


In Art Library

Art Reference collection: dictionaries, encyclopedias, museum collection catalogs (with accession number, can often search in museum’s published acquisition records)
Circulating collection: includes monographs on artists, catalogs, contextual material
Pamphlet collection: includes many exhibition catalogs; organized by Subject and Artist name (e.g., Art Deco; Rubens; Textiles; Warhol)
Indexes/Abstracts (on Index table) to identify articles, exhibition catalogs, books, dissertations, reviews:
Design & Applied Arts Index 1987-
RAA (Repertoire d'Art et d’Archéologie) 1973-1989
RILA (International Repertory of the Literature of Art) 1975-1989


Digital image collections (most are searchable by artist)
Art Library materials:

Picture Collection: organized by Medium (e.g., Painting) — Country (e.g., United States) — Century (e.g., 20th century)
To locate an artist, look in the wooden drawers on top of cabinet under the artist’s last name
Slide Collection: organized similarly as "Pictures"
-----Ask for assistance at Art service desk to allow access
Published indexes to art reproductions (in Art Reference)
Museum catalogs (in Art Reference and circulating collections)
Artist monographs and catalogs (in Art circulating collection)
Additional materials for background and contextual information, if desired, Please see a librarian.

Library Hours

Monday – Thursday
9 AM – 8 PM
Friday 9 AM – 5PM
Saturday & Sunday
11 AM – 6 PM
Closed all major holidays. Hours vary before & during holiday breaks.

QC Libraries hours
QC Art Center

Quick Links
Godwin-Ternbach Museum


Rosenthal Library
Level Six
65-30 Kissena Blvd.
Flushing, NY 11367
718.997.3770 // tel
718.997.3536 // fax

..Queens College Art Library, 2010.