About the Collection

GIF 2 edited by Mark Attwood, Joachim Schönfeldt and Robert Weinek published by The Artists' Press in collaboration with FIG Gallery, 1994. Wooden Slipcase Display.
GIF 2 edited by Mark Attwood, Joachim Schönfeldt and Robert Weinek published by The Artists' Press in collaboration with FIG Gallery, 1994. Wooden Slipcase Display.

The Smithsonian Libraries’ collection of artists’ books spans numerous formats, styles, and countries, and the works are available to researchers for study and inspiration. Researchers can discover them through the Collections Search Center and Smithsonian Institution Research Information System, which contain records for most of the Smithsonian museums, archives, libraries, and research units. To view an artist’s book at a particular Smithsonian Library, please contact the individual branch directly for an appointment.

Several Smithsonian Libraries branches hold artists’ books in their collections:

Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG)

The AA/PG Library collects artists’ books that fit within a general theme of telling the “American Story" to fit within the American Art and Portrait/Biography aims of the museums’ collections. The artists’ books are primarily by American artists and include a variety of formats such as handmade and limited-edition books, autobiographical stories, and mass-market or conceptual works. Browse the AA/PG collection.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library (CHM)

The Cooper Hewitt Library collects artists’ books mainly for their paper engineering and construction features such as movable parts and spinning discs.  The graphic design of artists’ books is also of interest, such as the incorporation of calligraphy or typography. Browse the Cooper Hewitt collection.

Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology  

The Dibner Library has a collection of artists’ books  based the history of science and technology.  Most of the items presently in the collection were created by book artists invited for the exhibition, Science and the Artist’s Book (1995). Browse the Dibner collection.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library (HMSG)

The HMSG Library collection includes many examples of multiples, conceptual, and large edition books, as well as limited edition, hand-crafted works. The artists’ books collection is especially strong in artists with other artwork owned by the Hirshhorn Museum. See: Hirshhorn Library Collection: Selected Artists’ BooksBrowse the HMSG collection.

Warren M. Robbins Library at the National Museum of African Art  (AFA)

The African Art Library collects artists’ books by African artists and by international artists where the content is African.  Books of all formats are represented including  fine art press books, handmade books, and books with moving parts. Browse the African Art collection.