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Museum Archives

The objective of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives is to collect, organize, and preserve in perpetuity the corporate records and official correspondence of the Museum, to make the collection accessible and provide research support, and to further an informed and enduring understanding of the Museum's history. Archives holdings include Board of Trustees records, legal documents, Museum publications, office files of selected Museum staff, architectural drawings, press clippings, and ephemera.

The Archives was established under the Museum's 1870 Constitution, which states that the secretary of the corporation "shall have custody of and preserve the corporate seal and the archives." Until the 1960s, the Archives primarily served as a resource for the Museum's secretary, other officers, and trustees, but has since expanded in scope to serve the needs of the Museum as a whole and of the public. The Archives operates under the authority of the Senior Vice President, Secretary, and General Counsel of the Museum.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives processed archival collections are accessible to Museum staff and to qualified scholarly researchers at the graduate level and above. College students, high school students and others may be admitted depending on the scope of their research and the relevance of Archives holdings. See the Finding Aids to Archival Collections (on this page) to explore the processed archival collections. Requests for access should be sent via email and should include a brief summary of the research project, a curriculum vitae or résumé, and the collection name(s) and box/folder number(s) of the material you wish to view. Access is granted at the discretion of Archives staff and certain materials may be restricted. Researchers must read, fill out, and sign the Museum's Policy and Procedures Governing the Use of Unpublished Material in Museum Files prior to conducting research. By doing so, the researcher agrees to the terms and conditions stated.

All research visits must be scheduled in advance. Regular hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday; 10 am-5 pm (closed June, July, August and Holidays). Friday evening and Saturday hours may available by special arrangement for researchers working on extended projects. Personal belongings such as coats, purses, briefcases, bags, etc. must be placed away from the work station in an area approved by the Archivist. Items approved for research, such as pencils, paper, and lap-top computers, may be kept with the researcher. Please limit or refrain from wearing scented products (perfume, cologne, after-shave, etc.) to your visit, as our reading room is small and others may be susceptible to allergies and environmental illnesses.

All material in the Archives must be handled with the utmost care. Improper handling and/or damage of archival material may result in the suspension of research privileges. Researchers should look through one folder at a time, maintaining the order in which the documents were delivered. Hands should be washed before handling the documents. Do not mark, erase, fold, tear, or place adhesives of any kind on the documents. The use of pens, indelible pencils, cameras, or any unauthorized device is prohibited. No food or drink is allowed. Take particular care with fragile items.

Photocopies of certain archival materials may be made at the discretion of Archives staff. There is no fee for copies, but quantities may be limited.

The following is a list of collections held by the Museum Archives that are currently open for research. Catalog records and archival finding aids that describe each collection can be accessed by clicking the title. A finding aid is a descriptive guide for an archival collection. It includes information about the origin, history, content, date and format of the records, as well as the physical and intellectual arrangement imposed upon them by the archivist. Some collections have been digitized in full or in part, and are full-text searchable and discoverable through the detailed archival finding aids below; collections with digitized material are marked with an asterisk. 

Director Records

Luigi Palma di Cesnola collection, 1861–1950s (bulk 1861–1904)
Thomas Hoving records, 1935–77
James J. Rorimer records, 1924–83 (bulk 1955–66) *
Francis Henry Taylor records, 1892–1956 *

Senior Staff Records

Richard F. Bach Records, 1913–53
Albert Ten Eyck Gardner records, 1824–1970
J. Kenneth Loughry records, 1929, 1943–71 (bulk 1945–69)
Joseph V. Noble records, 1931–70
Office of the Secretary Records, 1870–present
Margaretta M. Salinger records, 1941–74

Curator Records

Joseph Breck Records, 1916–51
Durr Friedley Records, 1906–18
James Parker Records, 1910–2005
Preston Remington records, 1925–70
Theodore Rousseau records, 1928–74 (bulk 1960–73) *

Department Records

Costume Institute records, 1937–2008
Office of the Registrar records, 1870–1996
Schools of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Records, 1879–95 *
Textile Study Room records, 1908–2003

Special Event and Program Records

The Metropolitan Museum of Art records regarding International Council of Museums, 1951–65
Irvine MacManus records related to Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition, 1975–79
Oral History Interviews *
Metropolitan Museum of Art 75th Anniversary Committee records, 1945–50
George Trescher records related to The Metropolitan Museum of Art Centennial, 1949, 1960–71

Trustee and Donor Papers

The Havemeyer Family Papers relating to Art Collecting, 1901–after 1982 *
Mary Griggs Burke papers, 1895, 1922–2016
John Taylor Johnston Collection, 1832–1981
Robert Lehman Papers, 1880s–1977
Henry Gurdon Marquand Papers, 1832–1981 *
William Church Osborn Records, 1904–53

Non-Museum Records

Bachstitz, Inc. Records, 1923–37
Artist Obituary Scrapbooks (1906-1929) *

Archival Collections Elsewhere in the Museum

The Museum Archives is just one of several departments at The Met which hold archival collections that are available for scholarly research. For example, curatorial offices, the Watson Library, and the Digital Department all hold unique primary source materials that document the collections, exhibitions, educational programs, buildings and staff of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. At present, there is no single search point from which researchers can find archival materials across all Museum departments. However, Museum Archives staff will be happy to assist you with identifying collections that may support your research wherever in the Museum they may reside. See a partial list of catalogued collections.

Access to Museum records is granted at the discretion of Archives staff and certain materials may be restricted to protect individual privacy rights and proprietary rights of the Museum, or because the records have not been processed and prepared for use. Restrictions may be imposed on certain materials including, but not limited to: Board of Trustee and Board Committee minutes, personnel files, financial records, legal actions, donor records, acquisition related records including insurance and appraisal records and conservation reports, prices paid for objects in the Museum's collections, names of vendors from whom objects are purchased, addresses or phone numbers of Trustees, donors or lenders, gift agreements, contracts or negotiations with donors, lenders, employees or others, and anything that would compromise the Museum's security or operations.

Permission to study archival material does not include the right to photocopy or publish the contents. Researchers wishing to quote from or publish in full any documents held by the Museum Archives must secure permission to do so in advance. Where the Museum does not have literary rights in the material, it cannot grant permission to publish, and the researcher must therefore secure this permission himself or herself from the author or his or her literary heirs. For information, policies and procedures on securing image rights and permissions, please visit Image and Data Resources (

Museum Exhibitions 1870–2022 — A chronological list of all special exhibitions held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from its founding in 1870 to 2021.

Historic Images of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Historical views of the Museum from its inception in 1870 through the present day.

Digitized Press Kits and Press Releases A full-text searchable set of Museum press kits, 1995–2015, and press releases, 1940–2009. Press kits promote exhibitions, gallery openings, and other special events and may include press releases, sponsorship letters, exhibition overviews, artist and curator biographies, wall texts, object checklists, and education programs. Press releases are official statements by the Museum on topics such as exhibitions and galleries, fundraising, educational programs, policy changes, hiring and retirement of staff, and other activities. Press releases from 1998 to the present can be found in the Museum's Press Room.

Annual Report The Museum's Annual Report details significant events of each year, including art acquisitions, exhibitions, and publications, and identifies Museum Trustees, supporters, and staff. It is available in two series, 1871–2013 and 2008–16.

Museum Bulletin Published quarterly for Members since 1905, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin details activities of the Museum, including acquisitions, exhibitions, Museum events, and programs. It is available in two series, 1905–2013 and 1964–present.

Metropolitan Museum Journal A scholarly journal, issued annually by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, that publishes original research on works in the Museum's collection. Issues are available in two series, 1968–2014 and 1968–2016.

Metropolitan Museum Studies A semi-annual scholarly publication, published 1928–36, presenting original research on works in the Museum's collection.

Metropolitan Museum Publications — Past publications of The Metropolitan Museum of Art are available online in two locations. Publications from 1869 to 1974, including catalogues, guidebooks, and educational pamphlets, are available here. Over 1,500 titles from 1964 to the present are available as downloadable PDFs at MetPublications, an online portal.

Watson Library Digital Collections Rare and unique materials held by Watson Library, including early Museum publications, manuscript letters, early printed books, items with unique annotations (such as auction catalogs with handwritten prices or notes), archival collections, and images.

Archival Collections in the Museum More than forty collections of primary source archival materials related to the history of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, its staff, donors and related institutions, and individuals.

Oral Histories Transcripts of interviews conducted from 1993 to the present with former Museum Trustees, staff, and associates, focused on the history of The Met.

Articles by Archivists at The Met Research and stories about the history of The Met. 

Publications about The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A History of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Winifred E. Howe

Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Calvin Tomkins

The Met and the New Millennium: A Chronicle of the Past and a Blueprint for the Future by Philippe de Montebello (The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Summer 1994).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: An Architectural History by Morrison H. Heckscher (The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Summer 1995).

Creating Central Park by Morrison H. Heckscher (The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Winter 2008).

Creating The Cloisters by Timothy B. Husband (The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Spring 2013).

Making the Met, 1870-2020 edited by Andrea Bayer; with Laura D. Corey

Telephone: 212-570-3937


Hours: All research visits must be scheduled in advance. Regular hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday; 10 am-5 pm (closed June, July, August and Holidays)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives
Office of the Senior Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028-0198