By submitting your record below to the Artist Files Online Directory, you agree to allow ARLIS/NA to publish this information on its Web site. All information submitted to the Artist Files Online Directory is publicly available via the Web free of charge. The ways in which the information is used and/or who uses it is not monitored or regulated. No information submitted will be sold or used for commercial purposes.
The institutions listed in the Artist Files Online Directory retain all ownership rights to their collections.
The Hirsch Library is one of the largest and strongest art research libraries in the Southwest. Established in the 1920s, the Library began as a modest collection of reference books. In 1981, the Library was named in honor of General Maurice Hirsch and Winifred Hirsch, who established the Library’s generous endowment. In 2001, the Hirsch Library doubled its size and now occupies two floors (nearly 8,400 square feet) of the Caroline Wiess Law Building.
The Hirsch Library supports scholarly research on the collections and exhibitions presented at the MFAH, serving the Houston art community and beyond for more than 80 years. The Library’s collection reflects the encyclopedic nature of the museum’s collection. Of note are the research materials that advance knowledge of Impressionist and
Post-Impressionist painting, Renaissance and Baroque art, photography, Modern and contemporary art, European and American decorative arts, African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art, and prints and drawings.
The Library collection numbers more than 140,000 items on the fine and applied arts, art history, art theory, photography, and film with extensive holdings of art exhibition catalogues, monographs, theses and dissertations, collection catalogues, and periodicals. Additionally, the collection has rich holdings of auction catalogues that total more than 25,000 items dating back to the 19th century. The Hirsch Library also houses a substantial collection of artist files that documents more than 25,000 individuals. These collections are freely searchable through the Library’s on-line catalog: http://www.mfah.org/library/
Approximately 6,500 new items are added to the Hirsch Library annually through purchases, gifts, and by exchange with more than 130 museums worldwide. A predominant number of the Library’s holdings are in English, while there are also significant holdings in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Dutch.
Recent notable gifts to the Library include the Manfred Heiting photographic book collection (3,000 volumes) and the Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio ceramic book collection (2,500 volumes), both of which complement and add significant depth to the Library’s existing holdings in these areas.
The Hirsch Library is open at no charge to members of the public nearly forty hours per week, making it one of the most accessible art museum research libraries in the country. The Library’s experienced reference staff answers over 7,000 queries a year from museum visitors, area art history students, art collectors, dealers, appraisers, and MFAH curators, staff and docents. Library staff members also provide instruction and orientation sessions to university art history students, docents, and museum staff. The Library staff is made up of five ALA-accredited professional librarians and three FTE para-professionals.
An elegant and well-lit reading room provides readers with a comfortable space in which to conduct research in a state-of-the-art facility. Access to the digital environment is provided through an extensive array of key art research databases, as well as free on-line tools from its on-line resources room.