Thomas J. Watson Library

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Thomas J. Watson Library
WikiMedia EditAThon TheMet 006.jpg
Wikipedia edit-a-thon held in the Thomas J. Watson Library (2017)
Established1965 (1965)
Location1000 5th Ave, New York City, US
Coordinates40°46′45″N 73°57′47″W / 40.779165°N 73.962928°W / 40.779165; -73.962928Coordinates: 40°46′45″N 73°57′47″W / 40.779165°N 73.962928°W / 40.779165; -73.962928
TypeNon-circulating research library
Collection size900,000
DirectorKen Soehner (Chief Librarian)
ChairpersonOlivier Berggruen
Public transit accessSubway: "4" train"5" train"6" train"6" express train to 86th Street
Bus: M1, M2, M3, M4, M79, M86
WebsiteLibrary website

The Thomas J. Watson Library is the main research library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and supports the research activities of the museum staff, as well as outside researchers. It is located in the Met's main building, The Met Fifth Avenue.


Located on the first floor of the Met, the Watson Library can be visited without appointment. At the museum, each department also maintains its own internal library, most of which have materials that are requestable online through the Watson Library catalog. The collection is a closed-shelf reference library, and materials are not available for borrowing by the general public, but may be used in a secure reading room; some items may be borrowed by Met staffers.

In addition, the Met hosts the Nolen Library on its ground floor, a collection of 10,000 items in an open-shelf, non-circulating collection intended for the general public, including children. The Nolen Library also includes a large collection of children's books, as well as specialized curriculum materials for educators.

The Watson Library's collection contains approximately 900,000 volumes, including monographs and exhibition catalogs; over 11,000 periodical titles; and more than 125,000 auction and sale catalogs.[1] The library also includes a reference collection, a rare book collection, manuscript items, and vertical file collections. The library is accessible to anyone over 18, simply by registering online and providing a valid photo ID.[2] Once a free account is set up, a researcher may issue reserve requests online, in advance of an on-site visit, and may also issue requests in person at the library.

The library houses several display cases which are used for temporary exhibits of books and publications from its collections. Exhibits may focus on a single artist, an artistic movement, a publication medium or style, or any other topic of interest. Items which are on exhibit are clearly flagged in the online catalog as temporarily unavailable for use.

The Watson Library is named for Thomas J. Watson, former chairman and CEO of IBM.[3] Its committee is chaired by noted art historian Olivier Berggruen.[4]

Digital collections[edit]

The Digital Collections seeks to digitize rare and unique materials that have not yet been digitized anywhere else on the web.[5]

Highlights from the Digital Collections include:

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art publications
  • Rare books in the Thomas J. Watson Library Collection
  • Brummer Gallery Records
  • Costume Institute fashion plates
  • Manuscripts


  1. ^ "Thomas J. Watson Library » Blog Archive » Collections". 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  2. ^ "Thomas J. Watson Library » Blog Archive » Access and Hours". 2007-07-21. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  3. ^ "IBM Archives: Interactive history". 2010-11-11. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  4. ^ "Visiting Committees" (PDF). November 1, 2015. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  5. ^ "About the Digitization Initiative at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries :: Digital Collections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries". Retrieved 2014-05-30.

External links[edit]