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Libraries & Archives

Inquiring minds welcome

SAM offers many ways to learn more about art and our collection, both online and in person.


Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library

Seattle Art Museum

Thousands of books, exhibition catalogues, journals, videos, and ephemera on art history.

Open Thursday by appointment. Contact to schedule.


McCaw Foundation Library for Asian Art

Seattle Asian Art Museum

Thousands of books, exhibition catalogues, journals, and folios on Asian and Islamic art.

Open Wednesday by appointment. Contact to schedule.


Library catalogue

Use SAM’s Research Libraries Catalogue (OPAC) to access books, exhibition catalogues, videos, artist files, and SAM historical archives. All resources must be used in the library reading rooms.

view catalogue
a book icon and the text '50,000 resources!'

For researchers

SAM offers researchers databases with unparalleled access to important resources.

Digital collections

The library’s digital collections reflect unique and historical resources that offer insights into institutional history, SAM's role in the local community, book ownership, and more.

view digital collections

Northwest Art Resources

Book donations

Materials we need

The Seattle Art Museum Libraries have created specific wish lists at that allow you to buy and ship materials directly to us. If you are considering a gift of money or books, we encourage you to view these lists of much-needed books and catalogues:

Your gift

We accession hundreds of donated titles into our library collections each year. They are an important part of our collection development, and we appreciate people thinking of us when the time comes to downsize your own—or a loved one’s—library.

donate your books
View from above of three people in a row reading books.


Institutional Archive: University of Washington

The Seattle Art Museum's institutional records are held in the Special Collections Division of the University of Washington Libraries.

Currently, the records cover 1908 to 2004 and measure over 423 cubic feet. The materials include correspondence, writings, minutes, reports, exhibition files, conferences and conventions, project and planning files, committee files, lists, indexes, policy manuals, newsletters, publications, publicity, clippings, scrapbooks, engagement books, catalogues, photographs, slides, ephemera, and subject files. A preliminary finding aid to the records is available online.

Historical Materials: Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library

Frequently requested historical material about the museum is available to researchers. Materials consist of annual reports, program guides, bulletins and newsletters, clippings, and exhibition catalogues. Materials must be consulted in the Bullitt Library reading room. Documents concerning past exhibitions, events, and installations are available to researchers on a case-by-case basis.

Historic Media Collection

Thanks to an anonymous donor, a grant from 4Culture’s Heritage Collections Care, and a grant from National Endowment for the Humanities, analog SAM-related content (reel film, cassette tape, DVD) from the 1930s to the present is being digitized and made public. The collection will be available soon.


See what library staff and curators recommend as the best sources of information on​ a particular artist, exhibition, or
area of art.​​​

Art databases

The libraries offer researchers access to databases which provide unparalleled access to important research material. These databases must be used on-site in one of the library reading rooms.

Search scholarly journal articles, books, images, and primary sources in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Funding for this resource is provided by the Amanda Snyder endowment.

go to JSTOR

Access biographical, bibliographical, and sales information on more than 100,000 American artists. Funding for this resource is provided by the Amanda Snyder endowment.

go to AskArt

Library FAQ

The libraries are open by appointment only. Researchers wishing to set up appointments should contact the libraries by email.

Resources must be used in the libraries and cannot be checked out. We are happy to hold materials if your visit extends to multiple​ days.

We are not able to provide potential selling prices for any work of art, appraise or give value estimates on any work of art, or authenticate any work of art. However, please contact us and we will help point you in the right direction.

Stay in touch

Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library
Seattle Art Museum

McCaw Foundation Library for Asian Art
Seattle Asian Art Museum