Rijksmuseum Research Library - online-catalogue

in short

The Rijksmuseum has the largest art-historical library in the Netherlands. It contains an array of books, periodicals, auction catalogues, annual reports and similar works with special relevance to the museum collections.
Research Library Catalogue (screenshot)
© Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

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Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

in detail

The library is housed in Cuyper's original monumental creation.

About the library
The library is a functioning art-historical research and conservation facility. On a national level, the Rijksmuseum library acquires more publications, and does this more consistently, than any other art historical institute, making this an academic library of national importance.

The library contains around 250,000 titles, including some 50,000 auction catalogues, over 730 current periodicals and annual reports and as many as 3,000 defunct periodicals. Annual acquisitions amount to an average of 2,500 books, and around 1,500 auction catalogues, periodicals and annual reports.
On European art history, the library is more or less complete, particularly in the unique collection of key 19th-century and earlier volumes relating to applied art, prints and drawings in the Netherlands.
The object is to provide both documentary information in support of the Rijksmuseum mission and to develop the national position of the library as a centre for art-historical study. The aim of the library is to maintain the academic level of the collection; to conserve as best as possible, to improve access to the information it contains and to develop the library's reach.

The collection profile parallels the collections of the Rijksmuseum. It focuses on the history of painting, printmaking, drawing, applied art and sculpture in Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. In these areas the library aims at maintaining a complete collection. Other areas on which the library focuses include the history of photography up until the First World War, iconography, collection history (collection catalogues), Indian miniatures, Chinese painting and bronzes, Japanese prints and sculpture of South and Southeast Asia. The Dutch history collection largely complements the other institutional libraries in Amsterdam.

Special collections
The library has a number of special collections: auction catalogues, architecture, asiatic art, photography, and also from former schools at the museum.

Around 60,000 auction catalogues can be found, including that of the Waller collection 1722-1932, the accent here being on drawings, and 13,547 auction catalogues on microfilm of the period 1600-1860. Only auction catalogues from 1989 onwards are included in the automated catalogue.

In 1897 the A.N. Godefroy collection of architectural books and periodicals was bequeathed. The titles have been registered in the automated catalogue.

The Hartkamp and Diepraam collections of photographs and photo albums were donated in 1994 by the Netherlands Office of Fine Arts (RBK) to the Rijksmuseum as the National Photo Collection. The library manages the collection of more than 5,000 photograph books and periodicals, all registered in the automated catalogue.

The Rijksmuseum's two original art schools, the Rijksschool voor Kunstnijverheid and the Rijksnormaalschool voor Teekenonderwijzers also had libraries. Both schools were founded in 1880 and were housed in the Rijksmuseum complex from 1885 to 1925. When they eventually split in that year, the library of the Rijksschool voor Kunstnijverheid was transferred to the Rijksmuseum. Much of the rest of the library was absorbed by the Gerrit Rietveld Academy library. In 1999 the two halves were reunited in the Rijksmuseum and in all, the collection contains some 4,000 titles and since acquisitions were based on educational requirements, the scope is diverse. Later acquisitions are not included in the catalogue and are not yet accessible.
The library of the Society of Friends of Asiatic Art is on long-term loan to the Rijksmuseum library. The society has collected books and periodicals on the art of East Asia (China, Japan and Korea) since 1918 and these volumes parallel the society's art collection. The titles are not included in the automated catalogue.

Scope of the collection
It is aimed to make all the available material accessible through the automated public catalogue. In addition to providing a public service, the comprehensive automated catalogue is integrated with other public information facilities to ensure an efficient management of the catalogue as a whole. To achieve this most of the card catalogue has been entered onto computer. However the items on loan from the Society of Friends of Asiatic Art are only accessible through the reading room card catalogue.

New tasks
The library no longer has the exclusive aim of presenting 'the accessible library collection'. The objective has shifted to the demand side, towards the information requirements of the target groups. Instead of providing a ready-made information product, the library offers a service that enables end users to solve (art) historical problems. This extension was required since it is impossible to include every relevant publication in house, while (art) historical information sources are increasingly distributed in electronic media. The aim is to support (art) historical research by making the Rijksmuseum's own information systems and other electronic information sources elsewhere available through an integrated work station.

It is the policy of the library to improve and maintain the condition of the publications in the library to enable these to be consulted. This may involve restoration, with due regard to the use of original materials and construction. At the same time, intensive use of vulnerable and fragile publications ensures a constant stream of volumes needing repair.

Books and periodicals are not lent out, but may be consulted in the reading room.

Reading Room
The library and the Print Room have a joint reading room in which prints, drawings, photographs, albums, and documents from the Print Room and volumes from the library can be consulted. Prior appointments are not required, unless for fragile and rare items. Identification is required. When asking for works of art on paper, the minimum age is 16. When studying an object, a maximum of 2 persons per object is allowed.

Reading room Library and Print room
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Frans van Mierisstraat 92
1071 RZ Amsterdam

Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00 to 17.00 hrs.
Closed on Public Holidays.
ID required. (limited service between 13.00 and 14.00 hrs.)
Phone: +31 (0)20 67 47 267
e-mail: m.stijkel@rijksmuseum.nl
Postal address
P.O. Box 74888

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