Archives FAQ

What is in the Archives?

The Archives include records from the Office of the Director(s), publications, photographs documenting exhibitions and events, sound and video recordings of events, and other materials.

Who can visit the Archives?

Researchers who require access to our primary source materials must request an appointment at least two weeks in advance of their intended visit.

How do I consult archival materials?

Access to the holdings requires an appointment. Fill out our form to request an appointment. Include the citations for needed material by consulting our Finding Aids.

For additional inquiries, please email archives@sfmoma.org.

What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a descriptive guide to 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.

Where can I find the Archives’ finding aids?

You can find the Archives’ finding aids here. For additional inquiries, please email archives@sfmoma.org.

How do I research a particular SFMOMA exhibition?

The Archives hold exhibition files produced by SFMOMA’s Office of the Director(s) and curatorial departments. These files contain correspondence with artists and lenders, internal memoranda, curatorial research, material about the catalog, and more. Please consult the Exhibition Records Inventory to ensure that an exhibition file exists in our holdings. Exhibition-related photographs may also reside in the Photographs Collection.

Where do I find a list of SFMOMA exhibitions?

The Exhibition List can help you verify the title and dates of exhibitions held at the museum. The exhibition titles are organized chronologically.

Can I scan, copy, or photograph items during my visit?

The archivist will make copies for you. The use of personal scanners is prohibited. Researchers may use small handheld cameras or smartphones to photograph archival materials, provided that such photographs will be used for study purposes only, and as allowed at the discretion of the archivist. Possible restrictions on copying include fragile items, entire archival collections, or all the text of individual books, manuscripts, or boxes of material.

How do I cite material consulted in the Archives, and do I need permission to publish it?

Researchers can consult the Guide to Bibliographic Citations for guidance. You must obtain advance permission from the archives to publish and/or quote from any archival material in the holdings. To request permission, please complete the SFMOMA Archives Research Request Form.

How do I obtain images of documents consulted in the Archives for publication?

For permission to reproduce materials from the Archives in a publication or online, please complete the SFMOMA Archives Research Request Form. You will need to provide the collection name, box and folder numbers, and a brief description.

I would like to publish an image of an SFMOMA artwork in my book. How do I obtain permission?

Please contact:
Senior Intellectual Property Associate
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street
San Francisco CA 94103
Email: copyright@sfmoma.org
Phone: 415.618.3268

I own an artwork. Can you tell me how much it is worth?

SFMOMA staff cannot provide such evaluations. Please consult an appraiser to determine the value of your artwork. Appraisers are trained specialists who work for a fee. They will evaluate your piece and give you a written statement of its value. The following organizations do not provide appraisals themselves, but each publishes a directory of its members. Always seek an appraiser with an expertise in the type of artwork you own.

American Society of Appraisers
11107 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 310
Reston VA 20190
703.478.2228 or 800.ASA.VALU

Appraisers Association of America
212 West 35th Street, 11th Floor South
New York NY 10001

International Society of Appraisers
225 West Wacker Drive, Suite 650
Chicago IL 60606

Some auction houses host “open house” days where visitors can bring in their artworks and staff members will share their expertise for free. Other houses allow owners to mail in their information with a photograph, and their experts will respond. To find an auction house in your area, search online for “fine art auction houses.”