Powell Library Collections

Collections Overview

The Powell Library collection of over 11,000 volumes devoted to American art and decorative arts of the 17th through the 19th centuries contains not only books and periodicals, but also an array of online resources, auction catalogs, and museum collection catalogs. For those interested in learning about objects in the Bayou Bend Collection or about antiques in general, the library’s reference collection includes invaluable resources, such as dictionaries of silver and china marks, biographies of artists and craftsmen, and scholarly articles and books on the creation and production of American decorative arts.

Search the online catalog of the collection

Rare Book Collection

Through the years generous donors have added depth to the library’s collection with gifts of rare 18th- and 19th-century publications. Some of these rare volumes include English design guides, such as those by Thomas Chippendale and Thomas Sheraton, which inspired the work of American cabinetmakers. Highlights of the collection also include early books printed in America for cabinetmakers and architects. Insights into the culture and society of the 19th century can be found through early popular periodicals in the library, including Ackermann’s Repository.


Hogg Family Collection

The library also houses the Hogg family’s own collection of books related to Texas history, reflecting the family’s pivotal role in the state’s history and their strong interest in its development and growth. Rare items include publications from the 1830s and 1840s encouraging settlers to come to Texas and copies of the first books to chronicle the history of the Texas Revolution.

Digital Resources

The libraries provide access to a broad selection of subscription as well as free databases devoted to art research. These resources are freely available to MFAH members, docents, and the general public in the reading rooms of both the Hirsch and Powell Libraries.

Access a selection of these resources online. Please note some sources must be accessed on-site.