Reference Collection

The Reference Collection has always been central to the Morgan’s role as a place of research. Writing of the Reading Room’s 8,000 volumes in 1930, Meyer Schapiro remarked that “the reference library is so near completeness … that for comparative study of literature on manuscript painting, there is no European library which is as convenient.” While the collection remains renowned as a resource for medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscript studies, it has since grown to 125,000 volumes (supplemented by electronic resources) that support study of the Morgan’s collections of incunabula, early printed books and bookbindings; master drawings; literary and autograph manuscripts; autograph and printed musical scores; and ancient Near Eastern cylinder seals.

The reference library incorporates the gifts of several specialized private libraries, including those of E.A. Lowe (paleographical studies), Curt F. Bühler (incunabula and early printing), Gordon N. Ray (book illustration), Julia P. Wightman (rare books and bookbinding), Edith Porada (cylinder seals), as well as the art libraries of Janos Scholz and Eugene V. Thaw. Recent donations include books on Pierre Matisse from the Frances and Michael Baylson Collection and The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation; on modern art and photography from the libraries of Frank Kolodny and Werner Kramarsky; and Sean and Mary Kelly’s James Joyce reference library.

The Reference Collection does not circulate, and may be consulted by appointment only in the Sherman Fairchild Reading Room.

CORSAIR, the Morgan's online collection catalog, is available here.

The Reference Collection’s collection development policy may be consulted here.


Peter Gammie, Head of the Reference Collection