For more than eight decades, the Hirsch Library has served the museum staff, art researchers, college students, and the public by collecting, providing access to, and preserving information about the visual arts. Situated in the museum's Caroline Wiess Law Building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the Hirsch Library serves as the general art research library for the institution. The Kitty King Powell Library and Study Center, a branch of the Hirsch Library, is located just minutes away at Bayou Bend and focuses on American decorative arts.
Among the services that the Hirsch Library provides are information services, such as guidance in identifying appropriate sources for biographical information and market-related data. Additionally, library staff provides assistance with research strategy planning and guidance on the use of library resources. These services are available to Museum staff, docents, and members, as well as to scholars, students, and the general public.
Materials associated with the history of art and related disciplines are readily available in the library's elegantly appointed reading room. Computer terminals and reading tables are likewise available for art related research. A beautiful garden terrace provides natural light and additional seating.
Although library materials may not be checked out and the general collection is closed to public browsing, all materials in our collection are available for use by request. Library staff are present to retrieve printed materials for use within the library's reading room.
For assistance with your research, please visit or contact the Hirsch Library.
The Hirsch Library maintains a collection of more than 140,000 volumes devoted to the visual arts. Comprised of books and periodicals, the collection also features an array of online resources, auction catalogues dating from the 19th century, unique artists’ books, Museum collection catalogues from around the globe, and artist files covering more than 25,000 artists.
Highlights of the collection include an early edition of Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists (1647), considered the first art history publication, and a three-volume set by David Roberts, Egypt & Nubia (1842–49), one of the finest achievements of 19th-century publishing and lithography. Among the 20th-century masterworks are The Art Work of Louis C. Tiffany (1914), a lavishly bound volume that documents a work of art from the Museum's collection; numerous books by Ed Ruscha, a pioneer in the creation of artists' books in the 1960s; and limited-edition publications by master bookmaker Keith Smith.
To view materials from the Hirsch Library collection, please schedule an appointment.
Art on View
When you visit the Hirsch Library, you'll encounter significant works of art that range from paintings to sculptures to works on paper, and even site-specific installations in the spacious reading room.
- Carlos Cruz-Diez, Physichromie 684
- Robert Graham, Fountain Figure, No. 1, Fountain Figure, No. 2, and Fountain Figure, No. 3
- Robert Lobe, Culver’s Gap
- René Magritte, The Kiss (Le Baiser)
- Matthew Sontheimer, Inside Out
- Ettore Sottsass, Vase, from the series Ceramiche delle Tenebre (Ceramics of Darkness)