Fine Arts Library

History

The Fine Arts Library is the primary resource for the study of the history of art and related disciplines at Harvard University. Initially conceived as part of the Fogg Museum, the Fine Arts Library's rich heritage and unparalleled collections provide a valuable resource for Harvard's students and faculty, as well as for the greater art history community. The library's holdings encompass more than one million items, providing scholars with access to an exceptional variety of printed materials, visual images, and special collections.

The history of the Fine Arts Library is intertwined with Harvard's unique role in the development of academic programs in art and architectural history and museum studies. With the 1874 appointment of Charles Eliot Norton, Harvard became the first university in America to institute a professorship in art history. When the Fogg Museum opened its doors in 1895, the establishment of a library collection was an integral part of its mission. In the 1960s, the Museum's library collection was augmented by the fine arts book collections from the Widener Library to form the historical core of the present Fine Arts Library. The Fogg Museum Library became part of the Harvard College Library in 1962, and expanded into Werner Otto Hall in 1991. Other notable milestones for the Fine Arts Library include:

  • 1978—The Rübel Asiatic Research Collection of the Oriental Department was added to the collection;
  • 1979—The library became one of two documentation centers of the Aga Khan Program for the History of Islamic Art and Architecture, located at both Harvard and MIT;
  • 2004—The Harvard Film Archive became a division of the library.