Collection Development Policy

January 2014, Updated April 2017

COLLECTING MISSION OF THE FRICK ART REFERENCE LIBRARY

The Frick Art Reference Library (FARL) aims to be at the heart of art historical research. Its mission is to provide public access to research materials in any format and in any language for the study of art in the Western tradition from the fourth to the mid-twentieth century. Special emphasis is attached to the history of art collecting and materials that facilitate research on the history of individual works of art: ownership, exhibition history, attribution history. In order to foster scholarly study of historic and emerging art collections in the United States, the Library comprehensively collects catalogs of private U.S. collections of art beyond its general chronological and subject scope.

The Library’s collections serve a broad, international research community, as they also support the scholarly programming of The Frick Collection and the Center for the History of Collecting.

Whenever possible, the Library enhances the historic strengths of its collections in the following categories: auction catalogs, exhibition catalogs (including pamphlets, checklists, and ephemera), documented images of individual works of art (photoarchive). 

CORE SUBJECT CATEGORIES COLLECTED COMPREHENSIVELY WITHIN THE LIBRARY'S GEOGRAPHIC AND CHRONOLOGICAL PARAMETERS

Research Collections

  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Works on paper
  • Stained glass
  • Mosaics
  • Tapestries
  • French furniture
  • Italian cassoni
  • Maiolica
  • Medals
  • French and German porcelain
  • Clocks and watches

Archives

The core collections of the Archives are The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library institutional documents and the Frick family archives, owned by the Helen Clay Frick Foundation but located for care and access at the Library and, in the case of documents relating to Henry Clay Frick’s business activities, at the University of Pittsburgh.

SUBJECT CATEGORIES COLLECTED SELECTIVELY WITHIN THE LIBRARY'S GEOGRAPHIC AND CHRONOLOGICAL PARAMETERS

  • Architecture if coverage includes ornamentation with painting, sculpture, or stained glass, or if they are architectural designs by an artist who worked in all media, e.g., Michelangelo or Gianlorenzo Bernini
  • Museology, aesthetics, and art theory
  • Classical art if essential for the study of later art and not being acquired by any of the Library’s NYARC (New York Art Resources Consortium) partners
  • Dress and costume acquired  if content supports the study of the fine arts
  • Illuminated manuscripts
  • Media outside the Library’s collecting parameters, e.g., twentieth-century ceramics, book illustration, posters or photography, acquired to enable comprehensive study of a single artist’s oeuvre, e.g., ceramics by Picasso or photography by Moholy-Nagy
  • Materials on private art collections outside of the U.S. whose content lies beyond the Library’s collecting scope
  • For the Photoarchive only, acquisitions are limited to images of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper
  • Archival materials from art history scholars, dealers, and collectors.

CORE FORMATS COLLECTED

  • Standard published monographs
  • Periodicals (online preferred)
  • Collection and exhibition catalogs
  • Auction catalogs
  • Ephemera

FORMATS ACQUIRED SELECTIVELY

  • Online subscription databases
  • Dissertations
  • Websites (See criteria for selection.)
  • Antiquarian items
  • PDFs and E-books

Number of Copies

  • Only one copy of a publication is acquired unless it is a publication of The Frick Collection
  • Revised editions and subsequent translations into English are evaluated on a case by case basis

CHANGES IN POLICY SINCE 2000

  • In 2000, acquisitions of materials on clocks, watches, and horology was expanded
  • In 2009, current journal subscriptions were consolidated with NYARC partners
  • In 2010, the Library ceased acquiring books on illuminated manuscripts
  • In 2010, German porcelain was added as a subject area for the collections
  • In 2011, the Library's photoarchive holdings of illuminated manuscripts were transferred to the Morgan Library and Museum
  • Periodicals from regional historical societies of the United States, previously collected to support research for the photography campaigns, are no longer collected
  • In 2014, the Library instituted a policy to comprehensively collect catalogs of named U.S. collections of art, irrespective of chronological or subject scope
  • In 2016, the Library instituted a policy to add PDFs to formats acquired selectively

GIFTS

The Library seeks to acquire through a gift-depository program all publications issued by commercial entities. Individual donations are received in accordance with the Gifts Policy.