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Arts Research Guide

The purpose of this guide is to introduce you to the variety of research sources available to you in the field of art at Queens College Libraries. Research in the arts continues to evolve with technology, though many invaluable resources remain in printed material. This guide provides an overview of resources available. Please be sure to also visit the non-circulating Reference, Folio, and Periodicals collections, as well as the circulating Stacks collection in the Art Library to take full advantage of the rich arts resources at Queens College.

The guide is organized according to:

Dr. Suzanna Simor

Dr. Suzanna SimorBibliographer for Art

The Arts at Queens College

Art Library professional staff are available to provide assistance to Queens College students and faculty in locating, using and evaluating information in the arts effectively. Reference service is available to all members of the Queens College community during most weekday hours the Art Library is open when classes are in session. Questions relating to Art Library resources and collections can be handled by email, phone, or in person. Remotely, please use our Ask a Librarian form for a general inquiry or for research assistance.

Writing About Art

  • Sylvan Barnet's A Short Guide to Writing About Art Queens Art Stacks, Level 6, N7476.B37 2008
  • Wayne C. Booth's The Craft of Research Queens Stacks, Level 5, Q180.55 .M4 B66 2008; also available as an electronic resource
  • Marcia R. Pointon's History of Art: A Students' Handbook Queens Art Stacks, Level 6, N380 .P56 1994
  • Marjorie Munsterberg's Writing About Art CUNY Electronic resource

In your own college writing, you will get best results if you choose a topic that not only works within your assignment's parameters but that genuinely interests you. To orient yourself in a new area, you may gather background information on your topic in a specialized encyclopedia, consult a relevant reference publication for an overview and/or a bibliography, and check unfamiliar terms in an appropriate dictionary. Then, once you have reviewed and understand the basics of your subject select a topic and devise a thesis statement, something that you want to prove or disprove.

Next, you will search for published scholarship and possibly also for primary sources. Your research goal usually will be to identify and locate these resources through using library catalogs (for books, media, print journal titles, and some e-resources), databases (for journal, magazine, and newspaper articles, media), and indexes. In addition, you may also find useful information from scholarly and professional associations and organizations and from web gateways.

Throughout the research process, be prepared to adjust your topic if needed — narrow, broaden, or modify it — in response to your interest and growing knowledge, and in keeping with the assignment. As you proceed, you will continue to formulate a focus, and form and develop a specific argument.

Remember to carefully select the sources for your topic, evaluate their appropriateness and accuracy, and think critically about the author's arguments. It usually is best to start writing early and continue with research as you proceed. When in doubt about the progress of your research, check with your instructor and/or the art librarian.

In writing, use the results of your research responsibly (credit sources) and effectively, and be sure to use the style manual your instructor requires to help organize your bibliographic notes and correctly cite your sources.


Books, Journals & Media

To support browsing the Art Library's Book and Periodicals collections please refer to the Library of Congress classification system:

  • N visual arts in general
  • NA architecture
  • NB sculpture
  • NC drawing, design, illustration
  • ND painting
  • NE print media
  • NK decorative arts
  • NX arts in general


ACLS Humanities E-Books
Digital collection of approximately 4,000 electronic books (e-books), essays, and primary sources in the humanities; includes both in-print and out-of-print books, hand selected by scholars for their continuing importance for research and teaching.
Alexander Street Press
Cross-search streaming video from: Counseling and Therapy in Video; Volumes I & II, Dance in Video; Ethnographic Video Online, Volumes 1 & II; Theatre in Video; Opera in Video; and VAST: Academic Video Online. Users can create & share playlists and video clips, and embed content onto Blackboard.
Art Abstracts (EBSCO)
Coverage of over 400 leading art publications; includes art history and criticism, architecture, archeology, graphic and decorative arts, design, folk art, painting, photography, sculpture, museum studies, media, and more. Complete list of indexed titles available here.
Art Full Text (EBSCO)
Comprehensive interdisciplinary coverage of art, art history, architecture, and more, from American and international publications; includes images (black-and-white only), and select full-text from 1997, with citations from 1984 and abstracts from 1993. For earlier coverage, see: Art Index Retrospective. Complete list of indexed titles available here.
Art Index Retrospective (EBSCO)
In-depth citations of print publications for art and architectural history, the visual arts, and media; includes images (black-and-white only), interviews, reviews, bibliographies, and exhibition listings. For contemporary coverage, see: Art Full Text. Complete list of indexed titles available here.
Art Museum Image Gallery (EBSCO)
Access to over 165,000 high-quality art images from 3000 B.C. to present; a rich digital resource of art images and related multimedia gathered from the collections of distinguished museums around the world.
ARTbibliographies Modern (ABM) (ProQuest)
Premier source of information on modern and contemporary arts dating from the late 19th century onwards, including photography since its invention; also includes performance art and installation works, video art, computer and electronic art, body art, graffiti, artists' books, theatre arts, fashion, and more. Complete list of indexed titles available here.
Arts & Humanities Citaiton Index
Available on the Web of Science platform, this database provides citations to 1,160 arts and humanities journals; use a Cited Reference Search to find articles that refer to and/or include an illustration of a work of art or a music score. See also: Web of Science.
Access more than 1.6 million high-resolution images from internationally renowned interdisciplinary collections and museums; includes a set of tools to view, present, and manage images. Users can create and share personal folders, and explore detailed subject guides, featured collections, and commonly used search terms.
Berg Fashion Library
Cross-search the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion with other Berg e-books, reference works, images, and more; includes lesson plans for integrating resources into teaching, and users can save content and searches by registering for “My Stuff.”
Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) and International Repertory of the Literature of Art/International Répertoire international de la littérature de l'art (RILA)
Access both the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) and the International Repertory of the Literature of Art/Répertoire international de la littérature de l'art (RILA) from the Getty Research Institute; provides comprehensive international bibliography of scholarly writing about the visual arts and material culture of Europe from late antiquity, and the Americas from the colonial era to the present. Complete list of indexed titles available here.
Cinema Image Gallery (EBSCO)
Digital collection of still images from movies, television and the entertainment industry; covers the history of movie-making and films in production.
Conference Proceedings Citation Index: Social Science and Humanities
Available on the Web of Science platform, this database provides citations to published literature from significant conferences, symposia, seminars, colloquia, workshops, and conventions; users can use the “Conference” field to search for conference papers by conference title, location, date, and sponsor. See also: Web of Science.
Fine Arts and Music Collection (Gale)
Access to international scholarly and trade journals focusing on classical and popular music; includes many titles within Wilson Art Index, RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, IIMP, and Music Index.
Gale Virtual Reference Library
Digital reference collection of nearly 2,000 titles; includes encyclopedias, almanacs, handbooks, and specialized reference books.
Home Improvement Collection (Gale)
Coverage of 200 home improvement focused publications; covers architectural techniques, holiday and party planning, tool and material selection, and more.
Multi-disciplinary collection of scholarly journals and electronic books (e-books) that include primary sources, images, and more. Note: Some journal coverage does not include the last 1-5 years.
Cross-search the multi-volume Dictionary of Art from Grove, along with the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, and the Oxford Companion to Western Art. Users can customize results with advanced search to retrieve dictionary entries, essays, art images, timelines, and thematic guides.
Oxford Art Online
Cross-search the multi-volume Dictionary of Art from Grove, along with the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, and the Oxford Companion to Western Art. Users can customize results with advanced search to retrieve dictionary entries, essays, art images, timelines, and thematic guides.
Oxford Reference
Provides specialized, subject-based encyclopedias; includes thesauri, language dictionaries, and timelines.
Textile Technology Complete (EBSCO)
Coverage of the scientific and technological aspects of textile production and processing; contains abstracts of scholarly journal articles, books, conference papers, theses, technical reports and trade literature.
VAST: Academic Video Online
Digital collection of streaming video that touch on the curriculum needs of virtually every department. Each video is fully transcribed and indexed, and users can create & share playlists, video clips, and embed content onto Blackboard. See also: Alexander Street Press.


The Art World



New York City & Long Island

United States











Washington, D.C.









Czech Republic















The Netherlands





South Africa








United Kingdom


Resources for Professional Development in the Arts

Professional Associations & Organizations

Professional Opportunities


Last updated October 5, 2014.

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