Using the Hirshhorn Library

Location, Public Transit, and Parking

The Hirshhorn Library is housed on the 4th floor of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, located prominently on the National Mall at the corner of Independence Avenue, SW & 7th Street, SW in Washington, DC. All visitors without a Hirshhorn badge, including other Smithsonian staff, require an escort to the library. Outside researchers and visitors may ask the museum's information desk to call the library at 202-633-2773 for an escort. Outside researchers and other Smithsonian staff are strongly encouraged to make an appointment in advance. 

Please see the museum's website for information about metro, bus, bike, and parking options.


The closest Metro station with an elevator is the L’Enfant Plaza (Green, Yellow, Orange, and Blue lines). 

Our accessible entrance is located around the corner from the Museum’s main entrance, on the Plaza. All areas of the Museum are served by an elevator. Please note that as of January 2023, one elevator is operational in the Hirshhorn building. Visitors using wheelchairs and other mobility devices may experience transportation delays if unanticipated elevator maintenance is required. 

The library’s stacks and other paths throughout the library have limited clearance. Help in using our collections is available. 

The library is not open in the evenings or on weekends. We offer remote reference through our Contact Us service. 

COVID-19 Precautions

The Smithsonian is, and will continue to be, a mask-friendly institution and is committed to fostering an inclusive, safe, and supportive workplace. See the Smithsonian's Health and Safety Measures on Entry and Visitor Guidelines for the most up to date information in response to changing CDC COVID-19 Community Levels. 

Food and Drink

Securely covered water bottles are allowed in the library and should be stored in bags when not in use. Visitors may consume food and other drinks in the museum lobby or outside plaza. The Museum’s Dolcezza lobby café offers a variety of drinks and baked goods for purchase. 

Outside Researchers/Public Visitors

The Hirshhorn Library is open to the public by appointment Tuesday - Friday, with the exception of federal holidays, delays, and closures. Appointment availability is subject to change based on staff availability. Appointments can be made by calling 202-633-2773 or e-mailing Please wait for confirmation from the library staff before visiting the library. Researchers may request books and materials from the library staff, and materials must be used in the library's reading area. Materials may be placed on hold for one week. Cameras are allowed in the library, and library staff can assist with our overhead scanner.

Non-Smithsonian researchers may borrow materials through their own public, special or academic library’s interlibrary loan program. The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives adheres to the interlibrary loan (ILL) guidelines of the American Library Association. It does not loan periodicals, rare books, folios, artist file items, microform, auction catalogs, A/V items, or reference materials. The Hirshhorn Library may not loan other materials which are oversized, fragile, damaged or otherwise at risk. We fulfill scan requests up to 30 pages or at the discretion of library staff in accordance with copyright law. See our Research Sharing and Delivery page for more information.

Reference questions may be sent to Please allow up to fifteen business days for a response. 

Smithsonian Staff

Smithsonian staff, interns and volunteers may use the Hirshhorn Library Tuesday—Friday, 9 a.m.—noon, 1—3:45 p.m. and by appointment. Subject to change based on staff availability. We strongly recommend calling ahead to confirm the library is open. The stacks are open during library hours and when library staff are onsite to those with a valid Smithsonian Institution badge. All persons with a valid Smithsonian Institution badge may obtain a library card from one of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives’ locations. The card is necessary to check out materials. The library staff offers assistance and orientation sessions for all patrons, as needed.

Library materials, except for reference materials, may be borrowed with valid library cards for periods of 1 to 6 months, depending on staff status. These materials are federal property and may be used in staff offices, workstations, and throughout the museum galleries, and must not leave the Smithsonian campus. More information for Smithsonian Staff on borrowing policies can be found on the Borrowing and Access Privileges page.

Searching our Collections

The primary tool for searching the library’s collection is the Smithsonian Libraries’ online catalog available through SIRIS, the Smithsonian Institution Research Information Service. All the library’s holdings are cataloged in SIRIS, OCLC's Worldcat and the Smithsonian Collections Search Center. Online databases and e-journals can be accessed on the Research Tools page, or through our "How Do I?" guides.

It is suggested that outside researchers and the public wishing to visit the library review its holdings online first to determine if the books and journals they wish to use are checked in and available at this location. For questions on specific titles, contact the branch staff at

The library staff offers assistance and orientation sessions for all patrons, as needed.

Photocopy Facilities

A scanner is available in the library, which visitors may use to e-mail copies to themselves. Visitors may use personal cameras to capture images from books as long as care is taken to preserve the material. Copyright restrictions are observed in any photocopying or photographing, and the copying of fragile materials and of oversize books may be restricted by staff.


Users are reminded to exercise care in handling library materials, especially when photocopying. No smoking, eating, or drinking is allowed in the library. Please silence cell phones. Use headphones when listening to A/V files or personal devices in the library. Users are asked to avoid using "dog-ears", post-it notes, paper clips, highlighters, pens, or pencils to mark pages in books and journals, and to refrain from leaving pencils, pens, papers, or other objects in books. Please report materials found in poor condition to the staff.


If an item is lost or damaged, the borrower will be charged for the cost of replacement or repair, plus a processing fee per item. See Fines and Lost Books for more details.