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Art History Research & Writing: Researching Art Objects

Information Needed Before You Come to the Library

1. Artist's Name and/or Nationality. Correct spelling is very important.
2. Date (exact or approximate) of the object.

3. Title of the work.

4. Medium and/or Technique.  (Usually, this information will be included on the label next to the object on exhibit.
5. Museum Registrar's Database (TMS): Objects in Yale collections usually have a record in TMS, a database which contains all of the registrar records of the museum. Sometimes this will include more information than what is on the label: an exhibition history or a bibliography of works published about the object. Try your search in the online collection database (for example, the Yale Center for British Art or the Yale University Art Gallery), and if you need more information, contact the relevant museum department.

6. Accession Number. Each object in the galleries is assigned a unique accession number. This number begins with the year the object was acquired, followed by a decimal and a second number. If the object is on loan, the order is reversed.

Starting with Gallery Publications

Collection Catalogs: YUAG publishes a number of catalogs on the artworks in its collections. Many, but not all, museum objects are listed in one of these collection catalogs. To find collection catalogs in Orbis or Quicksearch, try the following advanced searches:


“yale university art gallery” (author) AND “catalog” (keyword)


“yale university art gallery” (author) AND *limit publication date to after 1959, the accession year


"yale university art gallery" (author) AND europe? (keyword) AND paint? (keyword)

Exhibition Catalogs: Unlike a collection catalog, usually organized by the museum department collection (e.g. "Prints and Drawings"), an exhibition catalog will often include art objects from many different museums brought together at the YUAG for a particular show. Not everything reproduced or discussed in an exhibition catalog will be in the YUAG permanent collection.


“exhibitions” (subject) AND “bosch” (subject)


"Bosch, Hieronymus, d. 1516 --Exhibitions" (subject)


"chin?" (keyword) AND "bronze" (keyword) AND "vessel" keyword AND ""exhibitions" (subject)

Bulletins & Calendars: While these publications are not as substantial as a catalog, they can provide useful information relating to the acquisition of an art object, programs and lectures, etc.


"yale university art gallery" (author)
*then limit your search by "serials and journals" in the ITEM TYPE box