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Art Research & Resources

Steps to take when researching a work of art

Search Strategies & Tips when Researching a Work of Art

1. Accession Number: This unique number identifies a work of art often by the year it entered a museum’s collection, followed by the order in which it arrived that year, sometimes followed by numbers or letters indicating the item as part of a group. Insert accession number into search box on museum’s website to search for information about the work of art. For example, use the search box for the Metropolitan Museum of Art to look for a work of art by accession number.

2. Use the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, “a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of art from around the world.” This source includes links to artists’ biographies, maps, timelines, thematic essays, specific works of art, art movements and styles, materials and techniques, and a technical glossary.

3. Use the Metropolitan Museum Collection Database. Works in the European Paintings and Departments of Nineteenth Century, Modern and Contemporary Art have updated information on provenance, exhibition history, label copy, curatorial notes, and bibliography.

4. Use MetPublications to access catalogs and other titles online. Use the search menu and specify "Download PDF" in the format box.

5. Search OneSearch and ConnectNY for books. Search for artist as keyword or subject. Subject headings may have more specific subheadings such as catalogs, criticism and exhibitions.

6. Use Adelphi login to search the database Oxford Art Online: check off Grove Art Online for most detailed results. Articles on artists feature biography, commissions, work, style, technique, chronology, critical reception, and bibliography. Check off: Concise History of Art Terms for materials, techniques, styles, and foreign visual art words.

7. Use Adelphi login to access the database JSTOR for full text articles. With advanced search, enter artist's name and work of art title,  open + sign next to Art and Art History and check the 3 Metropolitan Museum journals and Recent Acquisitions. Sometimes you can do this search with the accession number. Broaden results by searching for the artist in the 3 Metropolitan Museum journals and check 2 additional journals (Art Bulletin and Burlington Magazine).

8. Use Adelphi login to access the database Art Full Text for articles. With advanced search, narrow by document type, such as feature article, exhibit, view all results, full text, pdf, peer reviewed. Use links on left side of screen for more results.

9. Use Adelphi login to access ARTstor to search for images of works of art.