Library FAQ

Who may use the Library?

The Library is open to researchers interested in modern and contemporary art, including staff, museum guides, volunteers, interns, SFMOMA members, and outside researchers such as undergraduate and graduate students, PhD candidates, artists, teachers, professors, authors, dealers, collectors, and museum colleagues. To visit the Library, please request an appointment.

Do I have to pay an admission fee to use the Library?

No, visiting the Library is always free. If you wish to visit the museum galleries, however, you will need to purchase a ticket.

What do I do upon arrival?

Library staff will provide instructions for accessing the Library once you have a confirmed appointment. All visits to the Library must be scheduled in advance. Walk-ins are not possible.

What can I bring into the Library?

You are welcome to bring a laptop, paper, pencils, a camera, and a silenced cell phone. Please do not bring pens, food, or beverages. All jackets, purses, notebooks, backpacks, camera cases, and laptop cases must be stored in the lockers provided.

May I borrow from the Library?

Library materials are non-circulating. Research materials are available for use onsite in the Library’s reading room, open by appointment Monday–Friday. The Library does encourage requests for proposals to exhibit our library materials and works with other institutions and art spaces to facilitate loans of our materials.

How do I access the Library's catalog?

Access our online catalog here. A tutorial for using the catalog can be found here.

May I scan, photocopy, or photography materials?

Researchers are welcome to take photos of library materials. The Library does also have a book scanner that outside researchers are encouraged to use for imaging of library materials.

Must all researchers observe copyright laws?

Works in the Library may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Making copies, whether by photography, photocopy, or other reproductive means, may be subject to copyright laws. Images may be used only for private study, scholarship, or research. Any other use, including reproduction or publication, requires the permission of the copyright holder.

How are the Library and Archives related?

The Library and Archives work in concert. For general research about modern and contemporary art, including catalogs from past museum exhibitions, visit the Library. For primary source materials about SFMOMA as an institution, contact the Archives.

How do I find out more about a work of art in the SFMOMA collection?

You can search our site or explore Artists + Artworks.

How do I request materials? May I request materials in advance?

Yes, it is strongly advised that you request specific materials in advance. Any items in the Library collections that are stored offsite will need to be requested at least one week prior to your appointment in order to allow adequate time for retrieval. Materials may be specified on the Request an Appointment form. Researchers are welcome to make additional requests during their visit, but paging may be delayed and we will not be able to provide same day access to items stored offsite.

Is there Wi-Fi access?

Yes, free Wi-Fi is available in the Library. Please note that there is no cell phone reception in the Library.

Will the Library staff research a topic for me?

Staff can answer ready-reference questions (artist birth/death dates, and the like) and suggest resources to help you in your research, but you must conduct in-depth research on your own.

What periodicals does the Library have, and how do I find them?

The Library has more than 2,100 serials titles with tens of thousands of back issues. These titles can be searched in our online catalog.

What periodical indexes and full text databases does the Library have?

The following indexes are available onsite only:

  • Arts and Humanities Full Text
  • ARTBibliographies Modern
  • Avery Index
  • Design and Applied Arts Index
  • International Bibliography of Art
  • American Film Institute Catalog
  • FIAF Plus
  • Film Index International
  • International Index to Music Periodicals Full Text
  • International Index to Performing Arts Full Text

Does the Library have SFMOMA exhibition catalogues and other museum publications?

Yes, we have copies of publications related to exhibitions held at SFMOMA dating back to 1935. Titles can be searched in our online catalog.

How do I purchase SFMOMA publications?

Recent SFMOMA publications can be purchased from the Museum Store. Most older and out-of-print publications can be purchased online through used book dealers. The SFMOMA Library and Archives do not offer any publications for sale.

How do I find SFMOMA’s annual reports?

Recent annual reports are available online. Annual reports for prior years not listed online are held in the Library.

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

SFMOMA staff cannot provide such evaluations. We are happy to recommend research resources, such as catalogues raisonnés and auction catalogs. 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.”

Do you accept donations?

Yes, we accept funds in support of the Library and Archives collections and book donations if they are within the scope of our holdings. Please contact us directly at library@sfmoma.org.