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Art and Art History Research Guide

Background research

Background research can help you:

  • narrow down a broad theme into a smaller topic
  • learn the basics of your topic
  • develop a list of keywords to use when searching for more sources
  • develop a research question and/or thesis statement

Starter databases

Starter databases:

  • simple, browseable databases meant to help students with background research
  • often contain credible reference articles, but can also have viewpoint essays
  • a good alternative or supplement to Wikipedia

Best starter databases for Art and Art History topics:

Find Books Using the Library Catalog

How to Find Art Books in the Library

Tip 1: Use keywords to search the catalog. For example:

  • Baroque
  • iconography
  • "Frida Kahlo"
  • surrealism
  • tapestry
  • livres d'arte
Tip 2: Browse the N section of the Stacks on the second floor of the library.
  • N  Visual Arts
  • NA  Architecture
  • NB  Sculpture
  • NC  Drawing/Design/Illustration
  • ND  Painting
  • NE  Print Media
  • NK  Decorative Arts
  • NX  Arts in General

Books to Check Out

Art Books in the Library

  • These books can be found on the second floor of the library and are available to check out.
  • Write down the book's title and call number to find the book on the shelf.

Reference Collection

Art Books to View in the Library

  • The books below can be found in the Library's first-floor Reference collection, next to the Research Help Desk. 
  • These books are available for in-library use only.