Art and Design Collections at the Smithsonian

Collections Search Center (Smithsonian Institution)

The Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center databasecontainsmost of the Smithsonian's major collections from our museums, archives, libraries, and research units. In addition, Collections Search Center searches across the American Art Museum’s National Art Inventories, the Pre-1877 Art Exhibition Catalogue Index, and the Photograph Archives, as well as the National Portrait Gallery’s Catalog of American Portraits (see more below).

Archives of American Art

The Smithsonian Archives of American Art is the world’s preeminent and most widely used research center dedicated to collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary sources that document the history of the visual arts in America.

Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

The Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture document more than 400,000 artworks in public and private collections worldwide. They provide a valuable resource to study a particular artist's oeuvre, as well as determine what repositories may own specific works of art.

Pre-1877 Art Exhibition Catalogue Index (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

Pre-1877 Art Exhibition Catalogue Index (AECI)contains thousands of records describing fine artworks exhibited in the United States and Canada up through 1876 (the Centennial year). The AECI includes artists of all nationalities who exhibited works from 1773 to 1877—including Old Masters, primarily indexed inexhibition catalogues, broadsides, newspaper articles, and gallery notices.

Photograph Archives (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

The Smithsonian American Art Museum Photograph Archives contain nearly a half million negatives, photographs, and slidesdocument American art from the colonial period to the present. Significant photographs are from the Juley Photography Studio, photographer William Rosenblum, the National Endowment for the Artsand the Library of Congress deposit. The physical collection is restricted to on-site use, though records and some digital images can be found in the database.

Catalog of American Portraits (National Portrait Gallery)

The Catalog of American Portraits (CAP) is a national portrait archive maintininginformation and images for more than 200,000 portraits of prominent American subjects or by prominent American artists. The CAP contains records on artists and sitters, and the basic online records are often supplemented by extensive physical paper files documenting history, provenance and condition.

E. F. Caldwell & Co. Collection (Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library)

The E. F. Caldwell & Co. Collection is acollection of 50,000 images consisting of approximately 37,000 black & white photographs and 13,000 original design drawings of lighting fixtures and other fine metal objects that they produced from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries.

Printing and Graphic Arts Collection (National Museum of American History)

The National Museum of American History's printing andgraphic arts collection, highlighted in the online exhibition Building a National Collection: 150 Years of Print Collecting at the Smithsonian, holds comprehensive collections of type and printing presses, prints, and printmaking tools and equipment, and representative collections for related trades such as bookbinding, papermaking, and printing for the blind. The former Hall of Printing and Graphic Arts closed in December 2003, but the collections are available for study by appointment. Examples from many periods and countries illustrate technical developments and cultural changes in American collecting interests.

Smithsonian Libraries Artists' Books (Smithsonian Libraries and Archives)

The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives has a rich, diverse collection of artist-made books from the early 20th century to today. The Smithsonian Libraries Artists' Books provides a concentrated search of records and images fornearly 1,000 artists' books held across our library branches. The physical collection is restricted to on-site use.

Art and Artist Files (Smithsonian Libraries and Archives)

Spread over seven libray branches, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives has over 150,000 vertical files of ephemera on artists and art collectives, galleries, and museums from around the world, but primarily from North America and Africa. The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives' Art and Artist Files provides a concentrated search of records for vertical files held across our library branches.The physical collection is restricted to on-site use.

Last Updated April 5, 2021