The Metropolitan Museum of Art website

Thomas J. Watson Library

The Libraries of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Library Blog: In Circulation

    In Circulation

    In Circulation features in-depth articles and the latest news about the Museum Libraries' wide range of research activities and comprehensive collection of books, periodicals, electronic resources, and ephemera related to the history of art.

Filed under: About Watson Library

Access and Hours


The Thomas J. Watson Library’s primary mission is to support the research needs of the Museum’s staff; in addition, the library serves an international community of scholars.
Reading privileges in Watson Library are extended to Museum staff and visiting researchers wishing to do art historical or related research who are college-level and older.
Registration with photo ID is required. All library users must check coats, bags larger than 8 ½ x 11 in. and laptop cases at the coat check or in the lockers in Watson Library.
The Watson Library is a closed stack (non-browsing) and non-circulating collection devoted primarily to art history. Requested books are paged for visitors and must be used in the library.
Researchers may use the Watson Library without paying Museum admission; to do so they must request a pass at the Reception Desk at the main entrance at Fifth Avenue and 82nd St.
Researchers who would prefer to use a browsing collection are welcome in the Nolen Library in the Uris Center for Education, on the Ground Floor of the Museum.
The Watson Library is located on the first floor of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Public Hours:

Weekdays: Monday–Friday 10 am–5:15 pm; paging until 3:30 pm.  Page from home and you will be notified by email when your books are available (except for Special Collections books, which will be retrieved when you come to Watson Library).
Saturdays: 10 am-5 pm; paging until 2:45 pm; reference services 1-5 pm. We do not page from Departmental Libraries on Saturdays.

Closed on national and staff holidays, including Election Day and the day after Thanksgiving; the library closes at 3 p.m. on the Fridays before holiday weekends (paging ends at 1:30 p.m.). View Holiday Closings.
Appointments are not necessary.

Staff Hours:

Weekdays: 9 am–5:30 pm (Stacks close at 5:15 pm)
Saturdays: 10 am–5 pm; paging until 2:45 pm; reference services 1-5 pm.

Closed on all staff holidays; the library closes at 3 pm on the Fridays before holiday weekends.

Telephone: Reference Desk: 212-650-2225, Circulation Desk: 212-650-2175
Fax: 212-570-3847;
Email: Reference:, Circulation:

Paging Schedule:

Location of Materials Time of Request Time available for pick-up
Watson Library Before 10:30 am 11:30 am
Before 12:00 pm 1 pm
Before 2 pm 3 pm
Before 3:30 pm 4:30 pm
Watson Library Special Collections (Photo ID Required) Anytime Retrieved upon Request at Circulation Desk (Monday–Friday, 10 am–5 pm, and Saturday, 10 am–1 pm)
Departmental Libraries Anytime Within 2 business days of request
Offsite Anytime Within 2 business days of requests placed by 2:30 pm


Watson Library’s electronic workstations are reserved for scholarly research purposes only and are not for recreational or personal use.