Using the HMSG Library

Access and Public Transit 

The library is located 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 are strongly encouraged to make an appointment in advance. 

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

Wheelchair access to the library and help in using its collections are available. The library is not open in the evenings or on weekends. 

Outside Researchers/Public Visitors

Outside researchers and the public may visit the HMSG Library from 10:00-5:00, Monday through Friday. Smithsonian Libraries observes all Federal holidays, delays, and closures. Due to our small staff size, the library may occasionally close for lunch or have temporarily altered hours. Appointments are strongly recommended, and can be made by calling 202-633-2773 or e-mailing 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. 

Non-Smithsonian researchers may borrow materials through their own public, special or academic library’s interlibrary loan program. The Smithsonian 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 HMSG Library may not loan other materials which are oversized, fragile, damaged or otherwise at risk.

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

Smithsonian Staff

Smithsonian staff, interns and volunteers may use the HMSG Library without an appointment from 9:00-5:30, Monday through Friday. Due to our small staff size, the library may occasionally close for lunch or have temporarily altered hours. The stacks are open during library hours 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’ branches. 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 Tools for the Researcher page.

Guide to the 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, the borrower will be charged for the cost of replacement, plus a $50 processing fee per item. Users who damage materials will be charged for the cost of repair or replacement for each item.