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Libraries & Resources ​​​

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SAM offers a number of ways to learn more about art and our collection, both online and in person—take advantage of the best visual arts resource in Seattle.

Discover, create, and read, in one of our learning spaces, or get answers to your art-related questions in one of our libraries. Our librarians are happy to help you find the books, media, and other sources that will advance your research and thinking.

Researchers wishing to set up appointments should contact the Bullitt Library via email or 206.654.3220.

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Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library

The Bullitt Library has thousands of books, exhibition catalogues, journals, videos, and ephemera on general art history, African art, American art, Australian Aboriginal and Oceanic art, classical, ancient Mediterranean and Islamic art, decorative arts, European art, modern and contemporary art, Native American art, Northwest art, photography, and the history of the museum.



Please email​​ or call 206.654.3220 to arrange a time.


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Use the SAM Research Libraries Catalogue (OPAC) to access books, exhibition catalogues, videos, and selected historical materials in the Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library and the SAM Conservation Library. Materials in the Conservation Library are available for use on a case-by-case basis. All materials must be used in the library reading rooms.

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​Location & Contact

Seattle Art Museum
5th Floor
1300 First Avenue
Seattle WA 98101


McCaw Foundation Library FOR ASIAN ART

McCaw Foundation Library

The McCaw Foundation Library currently has thousands of books, catalogues, serials and non-print materials that support research on objects in SAM's permanent collection of Asian art objects, special exhibitions, tour preparation, and the general history of Asian art (East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia).



Please email​​ or call 206.654.3220 to arrange a time.


Librarian: Yueh-Lin Chen, 陳悦琳, M.L.S., M.S.I.M.

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Use the SAM Research Libraries Catalogue (OPAC) to access books, exhibition catalogues, videos, and selected historical materials in the McCaw Foundation Library. All materials must be used in the library reading rooms.​​

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Seattle Asian Art Museum
Volunteer Park
1400 E Prospect Street
Seattle WA 98112



Photo of the Educator Resource Center at Seattle Art Museum with a staff person sitting at a desk and many shelve of books and resources behind them

The Education Resource Center is closed until further notice.

The Education Resource Center (ERC) is a launch pad to explore works of art and spark creative learning. The ERC supports inclusive and engaging art experiences through free resources for families, educators, and youth at the museum, in the classroom, and at home.

The Ann P. Wyckoff Education Resource Center (ERC), formerly known as the Teacher Resource Center (TRC), is located at the Seattle Art Museum.


Closed until further notice.


Until further notice, borrowed materials can be returned ONLY to the ERC drop box (accessible every day from 6 am to 11 pm), located at the parking garage of the Olympic Sculpture Park.


Seattle Art Museum
2nd Floor
1300 First Avenue
Seattle WA 98101


Smartphone Tour

image of hand holding phone with smartphone tour on screen

Learn more about the artists, history, and themes in selected artworks in the SAM collection and selected special exhibitions with a free a smartphone experience.

Smartphone tours are available on your own device for free at Select a thematic tour or look for the phone symbol/QR code next to selected artworks to access multimedia content and interesting perspectives. A verbal descriptuon version of the smartphone tour is available.

Search the Digital Collections

The digital collections of the Seattle Art Museum Research Libraries reflect unique and historical resources within our library holdings that offer insights into institutional history, SAM's role in the local community, book ownership, and more.

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Art Research

Find answers and learn more about many areas of art through the libraries’ thousands of research resources.

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We have more than 50,000 books, exhibition catalogues, videos, and electronic resources available to you.​

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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 thousands of full-text articles from hundreds of scholarly journals. Articles include images and date back to the 19th century. Funding for this resource is provided by the Amanda Snyder endowment.

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

Northwest Art Resources

The Seattle Art Museum has a long tradition of supporting and showcasing artists of our region. Learn more about regional artists through these exceptional resources.

Northwest Artists' Files Collection: Clipping files on over 7,000 artists from Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and the Province of British Columbia. Files must be consulted in the Bullitt Library reading room. Details on catalogued files can be found here.

The following collections related to annual exhibitions of Northwest art and architecture are available online:

Search the Catalogue for additional resources.​​​


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

​​Learn More​​​​​​​​​​​​


Archival and historical materials related to the Seattle Art Museum reside in two places: the Special Collections Division at the University of Washington Libraries and the Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library at the Seattle Art Museum.

Institutional Archives: University of Washington

The Seattle Art Museum's institutional records are held in the Special Collections Division of the University of Washington Libraries. The Special Collections Division is located on the bottom floor of the Allen Library South on the University of Washington campus.

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.

To further identify materials applicable to your research, it may be necessary to visit the Special Collections. Please note that a portion of SAM records are stored off-site from UW Libraries. When you have identified boxes that you would like to view, the materials will be delivered to Special Collections within 24 hours of your request. Researchers are welcome to contact Special Collections with questions by telephone at 206.543.1929 or through this form.

Historical Materials: Seattle Art Museum

Frequently requested historical material about the museum is kept in the Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library and is available to researchers. Materials in this collection consist of annual reports, program guides, bulletins and newsletters, clippings, and exhibition catalogues. Materials must be consulted in the Bullitt Library reading room. Email us for information and access.

The museum also maintains an internal archive of documents concerning past exhibitions, events, and installations. These are available to researchers on a case-by-case basis. Email us to request information or images from this archive.

For a brief historical background on the museum, please visit our About SAM page.​​​​​​​​​​​​​

​​Services & Pol​icies

Library Policies

  • The library is open by appointment only. Researchers wishing to set up appointments should contact the library they wish to visit.

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

  • If you are unable to visit in person​, the best way to receive assistance is to email.

  • If you do not use email and are unable to visit, please contact either the Bullitt Library or McCaw Foundation Library via phone. Please understand that we limit phone reference services to 10 minutes as we are simultaneously assisting on-site patrons.

  • If you have a very detailed request that requires more than 10 minutes of phone time and you are not able to come in, please mail your request—with images, when applicable—to either the Bullitt Library or McCaw Foundation Library.

We can help you

  • Locate books or other materials you need to do your research.

  • Find information on objects in SAM’s collection.

  • Track down biographical and other information on artists.

  • Pinpoint galleries or museums that may hold an artist’s work.

  • Locate auction houses that have sold work by a particular artist (if available).

  • Find an appraiser or gallery.

  • Find all kinds of information about art and artists.

We are not able to

  • Provide potential selling prices for any work of art.

  • Appraise or give value estimates on any work of art.

  • Authenticate any work of art.

  • Inter-library-loan books, but we are happy to point you in the direction of places that can. ​​​​​

ARTIST, Value &​ Authentication Resources

Museum curators and library staff are not able to appraise, authenticate, or positively identify works of art.


This site includes hundreds of artist names, primarily from America and Europe. The list allows you to browse names alphabetically.
Online marketplace where art dealers and buyers can buy, sell, and research fine art. Site includes information on artists and their work. Full access to data is available in library reading rooms; images are not available via library’s version.
Provides biographical and bibliographical information on American artists through a search feature. Full access is available in library reading rooms.

Bert Christensen's Alphabetical List of Artists
Building since 1999, Bert Christensen has compiled a list that includes the very famous to the very obscure.

Getty Union List of Artist Names
Part of the Getty vocabulary databases, the list is composed of approximately 127,000 records. Each record contains biographical and bibliographical information.


The Getty Research Institute's Appraisal Research Guide
This site answers the question: "How do I find information about the value and authenticity of a work of art, book, map, or collectible?" It's a one‐stop ​shop.

Appraisers Association of America
The oldest not-for-profit professional association of personal property appraisers. Its objective is to develop and promote standards of excellence in the profession through education and professional ethics.

Art Dealers Association of America
The ADAA is a nonprofit membership organization of the nation's leading galleries in the fine arts. Founded in 1962, the ADAA seeks to promote the highest standards of connoisseurship, scholarship, and ethical practice within the profession.

Art Experts
Art Experts is a global network of professional researchers and analysts, offering the full gamut of fine art related services. The organization is accredited by the USPAP Appraisal Association and the Appraisers Association of America.​
Makes information on current and past auctions available to the public. Auction items can be browsed by category. Registration on the site is free and necessary to bid in any of the advertised auctions.

Invaluable (formerly Artfact) is the world’s largest online auction marketplace of fine and decorative arts, antiques, collectibles, and estate sales.

International Society of Appraisers
The ISA is a nonprofit, member-driven association. Its members include many of the country's most respected independent appraisers, consultants, estate liquidators, auctioneers, gallery owners, and dealers.

The National Antique & Art Dealers Association of America
The NAADAA is a nonprofit trade association of America's leading antique and art dealers, pledged to safeguard the interests of those who buy, sell, or collect antiques and works of art.

Sotheby’s is one of the world's preeminent fine art auctioneers, in business since 1744. Auction information, past and present, is available. Visitors to the site can set up their own mySothebys membership account to participate in bidding.

Founded in 1766, the auction house Christie’s conducted auctions and private sales totaling $5.1 billion in 2008. Information is available on past, present, and future auctions. Joining Christie’s allows you to track lots, view condition reports, place bids, and more.

A house of experts in many fields, Bonhams specializes in the appraisal and sale of fine art, antiques and decorative objects in virtually every auction category. Information is available on past, present and future auctions. Bonhams hosts "auction appraisal events" throughout the United States. ​​


Materials we really 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:

Donating your own books

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.

It is important to understand that we are unable to take everything. Before donating, please read the scope and exclusion statements in our collection development policy to see if your gift would be a good fit. We request that you complete our donation form— a list of the titles, including author, year of publication, and format ahead of time—and send that to the appropriate library: either the Bullitt Library or McCaw Foundation Library.​

Donation Policies

  • Upon receipt, all donations become the property of the Seattle Art Museum Libraries.

  • We reserve the right to determine retention, location, cataloging treatment, and other considerations relating to the use of donated materials.

  • We are not able to accept donations with restrictions such as: limited to serious researchers, must always remain in the collection (can never be sold), limited to only staff, etc.

  • Materials not selected for inclusion in our collection may be sold, donated to another library, recycled or disposed. When items are sold, proceeds are used to support the libraries.

If we are unable to accept your gift, we are happy to recommend other libraries and organizations that might benefit from your donation.

Thank you very much for considering the Seattle Art Museum Libraries for your gift. ​​​

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

Learn more about Equity at SAM