Art & Design Collections at the Smithsonian


Smithsonian Collections Search Center Database 

This online catalog contains most of the Smithsonian's major collections from our museums, archives, libraries, and research units. In addition, Collections Search Center includes 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).

National Art Inventories (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 (AECI) (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

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 in exhibition catalogues, broadsides, newspaper articles, and gallery notices. 

Photograph Archives (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

SAAM's collection of nearly a half million negatives, photographs, and slides document 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 Arts and 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 (CAP) (National Portrait Gallery)

The national portrait archive, which maintains information 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)

A collection 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.

Graphic Arts Collection (National Museum of American History)

The American History Museum's graphic arts collection has concentrated on the technological history of printmaking--how prints are made. Examples from many periods and countries illustrate technical developments and cultural changes in American collecting interests.

Smithsonian Libraries Artists' Books Collection (Smithsonian Libraries)

The Smithsonian Libraries brings together nearly 1,000 artists' books, spread across several collections. The physical collection is restricted to on-site use.

Art & Artist Files Collection (Smithsonian Libraries)

This dynamic collection of over 150,000 ephemera files on Artists, Art Institutions, Collectors, and art-related Subjects is spread over many libraries, and uses this basic database to list headings of artists and institutions. The physical collection is restricted to on-site use.