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New York Textile Resources: Printed Matter

This guide provides information about New York City-based resources for textile and fiber artists and researchers.

Map

The above map provides a loose sketch of where in the city these resources are located. Please note that the Antoni Ratti Reference Library, the The Costume Institute's Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library, and the Thomas J. Watson Library are all housed within the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Additionally, FIT's Special Collections and College Archives are housed within the Goodman Center.

Recommended Reading

Printed Matter - Introduction

The below section provides contact and scope information for a range of libraries and archives whose collections prominently feature textile-related materials. Libraries and archives designated with this icon |    | require an institution-specific library card. 

Printed Matter

American Folk Art Museum Library and Archivesemail icon  research@folkartmuseum.org  Catalog

Use the above email address to request a research appointment. More details can be found on the library and archives' access policy.  

From the institution's website:

The American Folk Art Museum Library contains more than 10,000 volumes, including monographs and exhibition and auction catalogs, as well as substantial runs of nearly two hundred periodicals. It is a singular repository of scholarship in the field, unique in that its holdings include resources on both traditional folk art and art by the self-taught from the twentieth century to the present together under one roof.

The American Folk Art Museum Archives holds institutional records and distinctive collections related to the founding and development of the field, its artists, and its networks, and has been shaped by artists, collectors, curators, and scholars. Archive materials include audio, video, photographs, ephemera, clippings, manuscripts, and correspondence, as well as expansive artist and subject files.

Among these valuable documents are archives related to Henry Darger (1892–1973), widely acknowledged as one of the most prominent and iconic self-taught artists of the twentieth century. The museum holds four original manuscripts comprising more than 30,000 pages of text, approximately 3,000 items of ephemera, and source material, as well as two dozen double-sided paintings in the museum’s collection—all which make up the largest repository of works by Darger.


Antoni Ratti Reference Library  email icon  
RattiTextile.Center@metmuseum.org  |  Catalog

Appointments to visit the Ratti reference library and database are requested, but not required. 

From the institution's website:

The center's reference library contains approximately three thousand and four hundred books and journals devoted to the historical, technical, and cultural study of textiles. Computer terminals provide access to the collection database, which offers images and descriptive information about the Museum's textiles, maximizing the information available to scholars and the public while minimizing the textiles' exposure to light, dust, and handling. The library is open to the public without an appointment, but use of the computers should be scheduled in advance. All of the library's holdings appear in Watsonline, the Museum libraries' online catalog, and most are also accessible to outside researchers through the Thomas J. Watson Library.


Bard Graduate Center Library |   email icon  
reference@bgc.bard.edu  |   phone icon  (212) 501-3025  |  Catalog

Use the above email address or phone number to inquire about a research appointment. More information is available here

From the institution's website:

The Bard Graduate Center library has a collection of more than 55,000 monographs, including rare and special collections, more than 500 periodical titles, auction catalogues, trade catalogues, microforms, videos, and Bard Graduate Center’s collection of theses, qualifying papers, and dissertations. These holdings are all searchable in our online library catalog, Folio.

In addition to print resources, the Bard Graduate Center library offers a comprehensive collection of online research databases and a periodicals searching tool, TrueSerials, which connects you directly to the BGC databases.

The library is non-circulating collection spanning all six floors of the Bard Graduate Center building at 38 West 86th Street. With over 8,000 linear feet of shelf space throughout the building, the library houses a significant research collection to support advanced scholarly study of material culture.

The geographic scope of the collection is primarily focused on the United States, Europe, and China but also reflects the focus of the degree programs and the Gallery.

Key subject area represented in our collection are:

  • New York and American Material Culture
  • Modern Design History
  • Early Modern Europe
  • History and Theory of Museums
  • Comparative Medieval Material Culture (China, Islam, Europe)
  • Archaeology, Anthropology, and Material Culture
  • Other areas such as those studied in the doctoral program’s field concentrations


BLUE: Tatter Textile Library |   email icon 
 info@tatter.org  |  Catalog

Appointments to BLUE can be scheduled through the portal at the bottom of this page. It should be noted that BLUE is the only open stack collection included on this list. 

From the library's website: 

BLUE, The TATTER Textile Library, opened its doors in June of 2017. Serving as both an interactive, ongoing art-installation as well as an academic research library, BLUE is an ever-growing home to 6,000 books, journals, exhibition catalogs and objects that examine and celebrate the global history, traditions, makers, craft and beauty of textiles.

Open to the public by appointment, BLUE is an immersive reading and learning space. It offers visitors an aesthetic and tactile experience in its carefully chosen hues and textures. Different from traditional libraries, the intense presence of color evokes the complex relationship between humans and cloth. The saturation reminds us not just of the cultural and economic significance of color, but also that textiles permeate all industries and aspects of human life.

BLUE is an exercise in legacy, interweaving the personal collections of three women: Edith Robinson Wyle (1918-1999), founder of the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, her granddaughter Jordana Munk Martin, founder of TATTER, and Carol Westfall (1938-2016), renowned fiber artist and professor.

The curated books and objects converse with each other in the space, a material metaphor for the intergenerational and cross-cultural dialogues that captivate, teach and inspire. We seek to preserve, give voice to and contribute to such conversations about textiles and the ways in which they enrich our lives.

 

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library  phone icon  (212) 849-8330 |  Catalog

Use the above phone number to request a research appointment. Please note that the Cooper Hewitt's holdings are listed in the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System; limit by "Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum Library" in SIRIS search results. 

From the institution's website: 

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s Library is a branch of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and contains more than 80,000 volumes, including books, periodicals, catalogs, and trade literature dating from the fifteenth through the twentieth centuries. About 30% of the collection including all rare book materials are maintained on site.

Volumes cover American and European design and decorative arts with concentrations in architecture, graphic design, interior design, ornamental patterns, furniture, wallcoverings, textiles, metalwork, glass, ceramics, and jewelry. The library’s special collections include early editions on design process; sample books and works on materials; and resources on material culture.

SPECIAL STRENGTHS:

  • Rare book collection containing more than 8,000 volumes
  • World’s Fair collection containing over 1,000 items (books, journals, guides, ephemera)
  • Pop-up and movable books collection with more than 1,700 titles
  • M. Therese Bonney collection of 4,300 black and white photographs of architecture and design in Paris, 1925-39
  • Kubler Collection with more than 60,000 engravings documenting event and life in the 19th and early 20th century.


Museum of the City of New York |   email icon   research@mcny.org |  Catalog

Use this form to request collections access. The above email address can be used to seek help on questions not covered by the form. 

From the institution's website:

The Museum holds approximately 750,000 objects in its collection, and while many of them are used in support of our special exhibitions, not all of them can be on view at once. You may also explore nearly 190,000 objects from our collections, now available as part of our ongoing digitization project. We will be adding more material to the Collections Portal as our imaging and cataloging work continues, so check back often!

In addition to the Costume & Textile collection detailed further in the "Object Collections" section of this guide, researchers may also find materials in the Archival Collections and Manuscripts & Ephemera to be of interest. 


New York Public Library: Art and Architecture Collection |   library card icon   |  Catalog

While less textile-specific, the NYPL is one of the few institutions included on this list that does not require an appointment, making it an easily accessible starting point. Materials can be requested in advance using this form. As an additional note, materials from the general collection may be viewed in the Art and Architecture room, but not vice versa. 

From the collection's website:

The Art and Architecture Collection is the primary access point for readers and researchers using the Research Libraries’ materials, which relate to the fine arts, decoration, art history, architectural history, design, and theory. Collected primarily in English and Western European languages, the extensive collections include monographs, exhibition catalogs, auction records, periodicals, monographic series, ephemera, oeuvre and catalogues raisonnes.


FIT Special Collections & College Archives |   email icon   
fitlibsparc@fitnyc.edu  phone icon  (212) 217-4385  |  Catalog

Use the above email address or phone number to request a research appointment. Additional information about research at FIT's SPARC may be found here

From the institution's website:

The mission of Special Collections and College Archives (SPARC) is two-fold. Special Collections acquires, preserves, and provides access to a wide range of primary research materials in their original formats and across many languages and geographical spectra; formats include print and digital forms. All acquisitions support one or more curricula offered at FIT. The College Archives acquires, preserves, and provides access to College records permanently scheduled for retention or deemed to have enduring, historical value created or received in the course of College business. Archival records can be created or received by administrators, staff, faculty, and students. In fulfilling this mission SPARC supports myriad goals in and across FIT units as well as the research of those from outside the FIT. 


The Costume Institute's Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library |   email icon  
Costumeinstitute.Library@metmuseum.org |  Catalog

Use the above email address to request a research appointment. Please note that the Costume Reference Library's holdings are listed in Watsonline, can be filtered by choosing "Irene Lewisohn Costume Library" from the dropdown menu. 

From the library's website:

The Library's holdings largely reflects the scope of The Costume Institute Collection's more than thirty-five thousand costumes and accessories representing five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress, regional costumes, and accessories for men, women, and children. Current curatorial collecting practices focus on masterworks of those designers widely recognized by fashion historians as the great style-makers of the twentieth century, including but not limited to Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Vionnet, Schiaparelli, and Miyake. (For more references please consult Caroline Milbank's "Couture" book.) Important late twentieth-century designers include Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier. Ultimately, the designation "well-known" or "important" is at the discretion of the curators.

Furthermore, the library collects reference materials about types of clothing, fashion, related topics, and even different formats of materials not currently nor generally acquired for The Costume Institute collection. Among those library topics not covered by the Costume Institute collection are: separates, wearable art objects, boutique objects, study objects, fur, wedding dresses, children's clothing, and ephemera or works on paper.


The New School Special Collections |   email icon   
archivist@newschool.edu  |  Catalog

Research appointments at the New School Special Collections may be made using this form. The above email address can be used to seek additional information. 

From the institution's website:

The New School Special Collections consist of unique and hard-to-find books and periodicals, as well as publications by or about people and programs closely associated with The New School. [Within art and design]: artists' books, photography first editions, historical costume materials with hand drawn illustrations, classical architecture books, projects by Parsons students, catalogue raisonnés, back issues of rare periodicals, and many other valuable publications.


Thomas J. Watson Library |  library card icon​  |   email icon  
watson.library@metmuseum.org  |  Catalog

Appointments are not required to visit the Watson library. The above email can be used to request materials in advance. More details about the Watson's policies can be found here

From the library's website:

Thomas J. Watson Library is The Met's research library. With its collection of more than one million volumes, extensive digital collections, and online resources, Watson Library is one of the world's most comprehensive art libraries.

The Library's holdings reflect the global and encyclopedic nature of The Met, with books ranging in date from the late fifteenth century, to current scholarship, in all fields covered by The Met. Last year the Library added more than twenty thousand titles in sixty-seven languages.

The Library's mission is to support the research activities of the Museum staff and to offer access and outstanding services to an international community of students and scholars.

 

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