Powell Library FAQs

How do I find out if a specific work of art is on view?

Contact us by phone or in person, and we’ll tell you in which building and gallery you can view the work.

Who may use the Kitty King Powell Library and Study Center?

As a community resource, the Powell Library opens its doors to the general public interested in American art, decorative arts, material culture, and history. Users include Museum staff members, docents, volunteers, interns, and members, as well as outside scholars, students, collectors, and appraisers.

Do I have to pay admission to use the Library?

Visiting the Library is always free.

If I’m at the Powell Library and want an item from the Hirsch Library, will you transfer an item for me?

Yes. However, please allow 24 to 48 hours for the arrival of your request.

Is your catalog of library materials online?

Yes! Search our online catalog for books, exhibition catalogs, Museum publications, periodicals, and more.

May I check out Library materials?

The Museum’s Libraries are non-circulating libraries. Therefore, our visitors use library materials in the reading room. For patrons who want to check out Library materials, we suggest the Houston Public Library or the Harris County Public Library. Photocopying is available for most materials.

What does the notation “Checked Out” mean in your online catalog?

While we aren’t a circulating library, the Museum’s staff members, especially those from the Curatorial, Conservation, and Education Departments, use our library materials in-house. When you see this notation, please ask a Reference staff member for the item, and we’ll make every effort to get it for you.

How do I have an art object appraised or conserved?

Art Appraisals

Museum personnel do not appraise works of art or recommend individual appraisers because of a potential conflict of interest. However, to locate an appraiser that matches your needs, visit the websites of the following professional associations:

American Society of Appraisers (ASA)

International Society of Appraisers (ISA)

Appraisers Association of America (AAA)

While an initial discussion may be complimentary, appraisers charge for their services. Consider researching similar objects before hiring an appraiser. For your use, the Hirsch Library subscribes to auction databases that indicate current market values. In addition, contact [Contact Link] the reference desk for help with your research.

Personal art objects are not allowed in the museum or the library. However, you may bring photographs, sketches, or other documentation to aid your research.

Local Branches of Auction Houses include:



Art Conservation

The procedure for selecting professionals to preserve, conserve, or restore objects of art is similar to that of choosing an appraiser. Members of the Hirsch Library staff recommend contacting or visiting the website of the following professional association:

American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works

How do I pay for photocopies and computer printouts?

We accept only cash or check for all photocopies and computer printouts. Each black and white photocopy, including double-sided copies, costs 25¢, and each color copy costs $1.00. Each black -and-white computer printout costs 10¢.

May I take photographs of portions of your library materials?

Yes, we permit photography of most materials. However, flash photography is prohibited.

Researchers must observe copyright laws when making reproductions.