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Why use reference sources?
Reference sources provide background information, overviews, and even lists of sources to consult. Using them is a great way to find quick information and, in the process, discover words and terms that can be used to search in databases and catalogs.
Most of the reference books listed here are located on the first floor near the Research Help Desk. Most art-focused books are under the call numbers REF N31-NX, but some (photography) start with the call number TR. Be sure to ask the person at the desk if you have any difficulty finding these books.
Additionally, there are several great web-based resources made available through reputable institutions.
Online Reference Sources
Oxford (Grove) Art Online This link opens in a new window
Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. This is a great resource to use in starting your art and art historical research.
Timelines, Dictionaries, Directories
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art
Compiled by staff members at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History covers all of art history from prehistoric times to present day. Features interactive world maps, 300 timelines, 900+ essays, close to 7,000 objects, and a detailed index. Contents are arranged chronologically, geographically, and thematically. Updated regularly.
Getty's Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)
Records for each artist include biographical information, names (including given names, pseudonyms, variant spellings, married names, etc.), related artists, notes, and citations. Covers antiquity to the present. International in scope.
CLARA: Database of Women Artists
Made available through the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA). Contains information on 18,000+ women visual artists of all time periods and nationalities. Profiles of these artists are slowly being moved to the NMWA's main website.
Focuses on contemporary art and artists. Profiles on artists typically include biographical information, images of work, and video clips of the artists in their own words.
Reference Sources in the Library