Digital Library: Art and Design

A History of Pop-up and Movable Books: 700 Years of Paper Engineering

Video of a lecture given by Ellen Rubin on the history of pop-up and movable books.

A Jules Verne Centennial: 1905 - 2005

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries is fortunate to have a few early editions of Verne's works with the original engraved illustrations which made his works so popular. Verne and his publisher Julius Hetzel paid acute attention to the details of these illustrations, so that they are almost an integral part of the story. Later reprints usually omitted these engravings, and since the original woodcuts and early printing plates are long gone, all that remains are these images from the early books

An Odyssey in Print: Adventures in the Smithsonian Libraries

Throughout time, explorers have drawn readers to faraway places through stories and songs, maps and drawings, manuscripts and books. Their intriguing accounts of the new and unknown have brought the world closer to those left at home. As you explore six centuries of rare books, manuscripts, art, and artifacts from the Smithsonian Institution, you'll learn how Smithsonian staff use these resources in their everyday work.

Archive of African Artists

The National Museum of African Art Library maintains a fast-growing collection of more than 2,000 files on contemporary African artists. No other library in the United States is developing or maintaining this type of collection. Although most of these artists are living and working in Africa, the Library also collects information on African artists internationally. The individual files may contain gallery brochures, exhibition announcements and invitations, price lists, resumes, press releases, reviews, and newspaper cuttings.

Art & Artist Files in the Smithsonian Libraries' Collections

Search the database of over 50,000 artist names, including emerging and regional American artists, who have files in our Art and Design and History and Culture libraries.

Celebrity Caricature: Selections from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries

In the late 1990's the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG Library) made a special effort to collect materials on caricature and cartoon in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 1998 exhibition "Celebrity Caricature in America", curated by Wendy Wick Reaves.

Czech Book Covers of the 1920's and 1930's in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library

During the period between the two World Wars, the Czechoslovak Republic was an important and prolific center for avant-garde book design. Signed, limited editions showcased experimental design techniques, high-quality materials, and specially commissioned graphics. Book design for the general public, although mass-produced and much more affordable, was similarly innovative and attentive to questions of design.

Deciphering the Archimedes Palimpsest and Creating Digital Manuscripts

Lecture on the discovery, conservation, and imaging of the Archimedes Palimpsest by William Noel, Curator of Manuscripts at the Walters Art Museum.

Design Digitized

Some of the most beautifully illustrated folios in the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Library's rare book collection.

Doodles, Drafts & Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian

How do ideas evolve into reality? Doodles, Drafts, and Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian offers a fascinating glimpse into inventors' sketchbooks, engineers' mechanical drawings, and architects' renderings from the 1830s to the 1990s, to show the origins of some of the most familiar sites and devices of modern-day life.

Drawing from Life: Caricatures and Cartoons from the American Art / Portrait Gallery Collection

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries has a substantial collection of cartoon and caricature books. While these materials can be found in several branch libraries - such as the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Library or the National Museum of American History Library - the largest concentration is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG). The collection at AA/PG includes general collections, rare, and special collections titles which date from 1800. Currently numbering over 600 volumes, this growing collection has a strong focus on the works by American artists - the oldest dating to the Civil War period.

Fold, Pull, Pop and Turn

Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop, Turn presents more than 50 examples of action-packed constructions and inspired works of art spanning 500 years. We hope exhibition visitors will experience these rarely seen treasures as their creators intended—as remarkable works that calculate, educate, entertain, and amaze.

Frontier Photographer: Edward S. Curtis

Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952) left an indelible mark on the history of photography in his 20-volume life's work, The North American Indian. Part photographic essay, part ethnographic survey, and part work of art, Curtis' North American Indian Project represented an attempt to capture images of American Indians as they lived before contact with Anglo cultures. The photogravure prints in The North American Indian reveal peoples whose traditional ways of life were coming to an end as the U.S. frontier began to fade. Thirty years of grueling work on the North American Indian Project cost the artist his marriage and his health. It also yielded an American legacy that is an artistic masterpiece.

Hirshhorn Museum Library Audio Archive

Index and samples from event recordings and artist interviews dating back to the founding of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 1969.

Incunabula in the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

An index to the earliest books printed with movable type held by the Libraries. Some entries have associated images.

Le Garde-meuble, ancien et moderne

The beautifully illustrated mid-19th century periodical that helped the French cement their position as taste-makers in furniture and interior design.

Libraries in a Networked World

Video of a lecture given by Roy Tennant as part of the series on the future of libraries, museums and archives given in celebration of the Libraries' 40th anniversary.

Modern African Art: A Basic Reading List

An annotated bibliography that dispels the notion that nothing has been published on contemporary African art. Updated regularly.

Monographs on African Artists: An Annotated Bibliography

A bibliography that separates the polished gems from the stones - a list of substantive monographs and exhibition catalogs on 20th-21st century African artists.

Not Done Yet: Charting a new Course for Librarianship

Video of a lecture given by David Lankes entitled "Not Done Yet: Charting a new Course for Librarianship"

Picturing Words: The Power of Book Illustration

Through historic illustrations, viewers of the exhibit are able to see what inspires and drives graphic art. Andreas Vesalius, an early physician and progressive scientist, wrote the book "De Humani Corporis Fabrica" (1543) with illustrations of the human body showing muscles pulled back to see what was underneath. The illustrations of Vesalius changed the way people looked at the human form and helped develop modern medicine. Letters have been shown to be inspiration for some writers, as seen through the graphic images from children's alphabet books; and pictures drawn with a calligraphic style add a degree of artistry to poems about birds in Armand Monjo's "Tu l'as vu l'oiseau?" (1993)

Ramelli's Machines: Original drawings of 16th century machines

The military engineer Agostino Ramelli produced a remarkable illustrated book in 1588 describing a large number of machines that he devised. Called Le diverse et artificiose machine del Capitano Agostino Ramelli (The various and ingenious machines of Captain Agostino Ramelli), this work had a great impact in the field of mechanical engineering. The book contains 195 superb engravings of various machines along with detailed descriptions of each one in both French and Italian. The Dibner Library has original drawings of seven of the machines and this web site has been developed to further research on these artworks. We have on display here each of the drawings along with their counterparts in the printed book.

Science and the Artist's Book

Science and the Artist's Book takes its inspiration from the Heralds of Science (1955; rev. ed. 1980), Bern Dibner's bibliography of 200 landmark works in the history of science and technology. In 1995-1996, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and the Washington Project for the Arts hosted an exhibition of works by more than two dozen artists, who re-interpreted various scientific ideas, methods, and discoveries through their imaginative use of the book form.

Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

Portraits of scientists, engineers, and inventors collected by Bern Dibner to complement he thousands of scientific books and manuscripts in the library he founded.

Seed and Nursery Catalogs

Colorful collection of catalogs that document the history of the seed and agricultural implement business as well as ornamental and edible plants in the U. S.

Shedding Light on New York

This massive archive of photographs show the variety of lighting fixtures E. F. Caldwell & Co. produced for wealthy clients like Carnegie, Morgan, and Astor.

The Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio

Illustrations of the nests and eggs of birds of Ohio was published in the small town of Circleville, Ohio, over a period of eight years (from 1879 to 1886) through the dedicated efforts of the family and friends of a young woman named Genevieve Jones. Despite being produced not just by amateurs but largely by women, far from the publishing houses and intellectual centers of 19th-century America, the book was hailed as an extraordinary achievement from the moment its first few plates were published. Elliott Coues, one of the foremost American ornithologists of the period, praised the book as its parts came off the press and were distributed.

The Making of a Homemaker

Sustaining a home and healthy family was a full time job for middle class women in late nineteenth century America. Daniel Wise articulated the popular sentiment when he proclaimed, "Home is woman's world, as well as her empire".1 Cooking, cleaning, and child rearing were seen as women's work. To some, "Comfort for her family is provided even at the expense of many an exhausted nerve, and an aching heart". How did they handle the daunting work without the aid of microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners and carpools? Wealthier women might rely on servants while other matrons bore the brunt of work themselves. However, to almost all, a comprehensive domestic guidebook could be indispensable.

The Smithsonian Libraries Artists’ Books Collection

Learn more about and search hundreds of artists’ books and artists’ publications across the Smithsonian Libraries.

Vibrant Visions: Pochoir Prints in the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Library

The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library, Smithsonian Institution Libraries, has a rich collection of vibrantly colored illustrated books and periodicals that were created using the pochoir stenciling process. The pochoir process, characterized by its crisp lines and brilliant colors, produces images that have a freshly printed or wet appearance. This display provides a brief history and description of the pochoir process along with select examples of pochoir images from the library's collection that illustrate costume, interior, and pattern designs produced in France from 1900 through the 1930s.

Voyages: A Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition

Voyages of discovery can be of many kinds: a physical journey to an unknown place, a mental exploration of new or familiar territory, or a wholly new episode of creative thought. All three are explored in Voyages, an exhibition spanning five centuries of rare books, manuscripts, art, and artifacts from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

Your Smithsonian Libraries

Did you know the Smithsonian has a library? Actually, the Smithsonian has 20 libraries combined into one system and supported by an online catalog of the combined collections of: Over 1.5 million books, 50,000 rare books, 10,000 historic manuscript and over 2,000 electronic journal titles