Finding Information On Objects In The Metropolitan Museum of Art – A Quick Guide
All of the Museum’s accessioned objects are on the website www.metmuseum.org
These are recommended steps to help you search for information about objects in the Museum’s permanent collection.
1. Begin your search by going to the Museum’s website: www.metmuseum.org. The website has information about all accessioned objects in the Museum’s collection (not including all prints from the Department of Drawings and Prints).
- Mouse over the Collections tab on the home page of the website, and find the Search the Collections link. Enter the object accession number (or appropriate key words) and click on the arrow to search. The accession number is on the object label or caption.
- If you do not have the accession number, search by the artist’s last name and/or a keyword from the title of the work (e.g., bruegel harvesters), or keyword (e.g., armoire) or a phrase that describes the work (e.g., “art deco” in quotation marks). Use the Who, What, Where, When and In the Museum tabs to limit results.
- The object record will contain basic information about the work as well as an image if available. Images can be panned and zoomed.
- There may also be links to the gallery label, a catalogue entry, signature information, provenance, exhibition history, references, notes and “see also” references.
- If there is a link to References, click on it to display citations to relevant material about the object; these are in chronological order.
- Search WATSONLINE or another library catalog to locate the citations found under References.
- There may be links to relevant entries (timelines and/or essays) in the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.
2. Search the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.
- Mouse over the Collections tab on the home page of the website, and find the Timeline of Art History link.
- The Timeline might feature the specific object you are looking for; OR, you can search for information on the time period, artist, culture, form, style or medium of the object and find valuable contextual information, e.g., Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
- If you find an entry for your object in the Timeline, there might be links to the full text of related articles in the Museum’s Bulletin and/or Journal at the bottom of the page. Select the PDF links which will bring up the article on any computer, inside or outside the Museum.
3. If the object is not on the Museum’s website, or if you need more information than you find on the website, try the following:
- Search the MMA Bulletin and Journal in JSTOR (you need to be in the Museum or have a subscription through your college or university) by the artist’s last name and the exact title of the work, or by keywords from the title or description of the work.
- The Recent Acquisitions Bulletins from 2002-10 are available in full text through a link on the Museum’s website; mouse over Collections tab and click on Recent Acquisitions.
- If you know that the object was in an exhibition, search for the exhibition catalog in WATSONLINE (http://library.metmuseum.org). Not every exhibition has a catalog, but most do.
- Look in relevant MMA collection catalogs that describe the permanent collection (many of the Museum’s objects are discussed in these catalogs). Nolen Library has many of these catalogs; Watson Library has all of them.
- Consult the Audio Guide scripts (ask library staff in Nolen).
- Some objects are documented in podcasts and other media, available through the Met Media link on the
Museum’s website (bottom of each page).
- Contact the Central Catalog (central.catalog@ metmuseum.org) to find out if the object may be documented there; you will receive an email response with available information.
In some instances, the Nolen or Watson librarian can access object information from Central Catalog immediately. Ask!
4. If no detailed information about the object is available on the Museum’s website or in the Timeline, search the libraries’ catalog (WATSONLINE) and other reference tools to broaden your search. LOOK FOR information about the artist, style, time period, culture, form or medium.
ASK A REFERENCE LIBRARIAN FOR HELP!
Even if there is no published research on a specific object, a great deal can still be learned by researching its context.