Metropolitan Museum – Library

A Museum without a library is like a carpenter’s kit of tools in which the spirit-level is missing.

The exhibits of a museum are valuable to show the beauty of style and execution of works of art — their value is enhanced when a well-selected reference library enables us to study the history of these works, and gives us a fair insight into their relative value by comparison and collateral information. Such a library need not cover the scope of an institution for books as such. But as no person interested in law would be satisfied without having access to a specialized law library, nor any organization of engineers would be deprived of its scientific books, so no art museum can do without an art library. This contains reference works for the museum staff, for students, and for those. whose interest in the exhibits urges to seek more extended information.

The Library is also the appropriate depository for incunabula and manuscripts, for reproductions of these, and for photographs of the thousands of art objects not in the Museum but of equal if not of greater value that need to be known to lend greater appreciation of what is on exhibition in the galleries. It must house those specimens that show the art of illuminating manuscripts, of typo-graphical development, and of book binding.

In the Metropolitan Museum Library there are beautifully illuminated manuscripts — note the one on vellum ” De Civitate Dei.” There is a magnificent reproduction of ” Il Breviario Grimani,” the prayer book that rests in the St. Marc Library of Venice, with its miniature paintings by Gerard Horebout, Alexander Benning, Livinus van Laetham, Mabuse and Memlinc.

The collection of photographs is constantly increasing, and their arrangement, indexing and cataloguing is done in a way which makes for easy reference to any subject.

The gathering of art text books, the tools for the study of art, is judiciously pushed so that every subject covered by the Museum exhibits can now with more Or less thoroughness be advantageously studied.