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Filed under: Research

How to find bibliographic citations that refer to objects in the Museum’s collection

Here are some starting points (see also Finding Information on Objects in The Metropolitan Museum of Art – A Quick Guide)

The Museum’s website

  • Many object records in the Collections Search on the Museum’s website include bibliographical references. Search the Collections by accession number, keywords, artist names, etc.
  • Articles in the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History often contain bibliographic references for particular objects, artists and broader topics in art history. The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History is searchable by accession number, keywords, artist names, etc.


  • MetPublications (MetPubs) is a portal to over 1000 publications from the Met since 1964 (some earlier).  These publications are either fully or partially digitized.  They include a growing collection of exhibition and collection catalogs, educator publications, Museum Bulletins and Journals as well as (born)-online publications.  Some pre-1964 publications are also included.
  • Many MMA publications may be viewed in their entirety (especially those that are out of print), and others are available in partial view.  Those that are fully available may be read online and searched fully, and may also be downloaded as PDFs.  Those only partially viewable may be fully searched online.
  • Link to MetPubs from Research Tab on Museum’s website or from an object record in the Collection Database
    • Search by accession number of object in Keyword box
    • Search by artist name or exact object title in Keyword box


  • Search the holdings of the Museum’s libraries to find collection catalogs and exhibition catalogs, many of which contain extensive bibliographies, and can be found here.
  • If the artist of the work is known, try a subject search by artist’s name (last name first). If the work of art is particularly well known, you may also try a keyword search by the title of the work [e.g. , The Harvesters, Portrait of Gertrude Stein, Aristotle contemplating the bust of Homer]. Note: Watsonline is a library catalog and not an object database, and it is not searchable by accession number.
  • Other important sources for bibliographic citations are catalogues raisonnés and subject bibliographies. These types of materials can be easily located using the advanced search feature. For example:
    • To find a catalogue raisonné for Picasso enter Subject Word “Picasso” AND Subject Word “catalogues raisonnes”
    • To find a bibliography on Picasso enter Subject Word “Picasso” AND Subject Word “bibliography”

The Museum’s Periodicals

  • Both of the Museum’s major periodical publications (Bulletin and Journal) are available through JSTOR and contain robust bibliographies. (Note that the most recent 3-4 years of the Museum’s Bulletin and Journal are available only in print form and are not on JSTOR.)

Central Catalog

As a last resort you may also wish to contact the Central Catalog

  • The Central Catalog is a paper file of object information which includes description and sometimes bibliography. This file has not been updated since 2004 and does not include information for objects from Egyptian, Lehman, Photographs, objects in Greek and Roman acquired since 1972, or on prints from the Department of Drawings and Prints.

Objects from other museums

To find bibliographical citations for a work of art owned by an institution other than the Met, first find out who does own it and check that institution’s collection database and online library catalog. The Watson Library has extensive holdings of exhibition catalogs and collection catalogs from institutions around the world. Use WATSONLINE to identify them.

LS. Updated 12/2013