About the Collection
The National Gallery of Art Library began its collection of artists’ books in 1991 with a large donation by Patricia G. England. There have been some acquisitions since the initial donation, creating a collection with hundreds of works. Strengths of the collection include fine press works, books about art and architecture, and books related to literature. The library regularly has exhibitions of books and often features artists’ books. These exhibitions include the recent show “Text as Inspiration: Artists’ Books and Literature.”
Finding Artists’ Books
The library has catalogued some works as artists’ books, some as fine press books, and some as both. To pull a list of all artists’ books and fine press works, use the National Gallery of Art’s Mercury online public access catalog. Click “Search the Library” on the right, then select the advanced search. Type “artists’ books” in the first field. Select “as a phrase” from the first drop-down menu, then “keyword anywhere” from the second menu. Below, select “OR” from the Boolean operator drop-down menu. Below that, type “fine press collection” in the free-text field. Select “as a phrase” from the first drop-down menu, then “keyword anywhere” from the second menu. Click the search button. This search will produce a list of all the artists’ books, fine press works, and reference works about artists’ books in the library.
How to Get There
4th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565
The library is located in the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. The East Building is located near several Metro stations. From the Red line, exit at Judiciary Square. Go east on E Street NW, then turn right on 3rd Street NW. The East Building is just past Constitution Avenue, and the entrance is on 4th Street. From the Yellow or Green lines, take the Archives exit. Briefly go south on 7th Street NW, then take a left on Pennsylvania Avenue. Take a right on 4th Street NW, where you’ll see the East Building.
What to Expect
You can do research at the library Monday from noon to 4:30, and Tuesday through Friday from 10 to 4:30. After you enter the building, leave your bags and books in the checkroom. Cross the atrium on the main floor. Head toward the glass door marked “Administrative and Study Center.” The guard will direct you to the library, where you can request the books you would like to use. Contact the library with questions by calling 202-842-6511.
Artists’ Books and Literature
Rare Book Highlights
National Gallery of Art Library
Patricia G. England Collection of Fine Press and Artists’ Books. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2000.
Text as Inspiration: Artists’ Books and Literature: National Gallery of Art, July 30, 2011-January 29, 2012. Washington, DC: Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, 2011.