Welcome! This guide is designed to provide you with a variety of resources for art history research.

Your Art History Librarian
Caitlin R. Trachim

The databases below are good places to start for research in any art history topic. If you aren't sure about how to use a research database, feel free to ask one of the Library staff! We are more than happy to demonstrate a search technique or help you to locate sources for a more complicated subject matter.

Academic Search Ultimate:
Full text for over 9,000 scholarly publications in almost every discipline including social sciences, humanities, education, arts & literature, and many more.

Art & Architecture Source:
Contains over 750 full-text journals and more than 220 full-text books, plus a database of art images.

Our only database dedicated solely to scholarly literature with articles in the fields of history, politicial science, archaeology, art history, anthropology, literature and languages, music, and more; however, JSTOR usually is unable to provide access to the most recently published articles.

Project MUSE:
Project MUSE is a leading provider of digital humanities and social sciences content.

These open-source databases can be used for finding high-resolution images of art and objects, as well as photographs, manuscripts, and more. Many are provided by museums and other cultural institutions and are freely available to the public.

Archives of American Art - Part of the Smithsonian Institution; this is a collection of primary sources relating to over 200 years of American art history, including letters and diaries, manuscripts, photographs, and more.

Digital Scriptorium - A consortium of American libraries and museums providing free access to medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.

Digital Public Library of America - A repository of images, text, video and more from across the United States. This collection is freely available to the public.

Europeana Collections - Europeana provides access to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitized by European cultural and scientific institutions.

Google Arts & Culture - Google provides high-resolution images of art and objects from museums and cultural institutions around the world.

Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) - A portfolio of visual art collections from the U.K. comprising over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research.

Scholarly sources are the best to use for a research paper or any college-level work. But how to distinguish between a scholarly source and a popular source? Hopefully these tips will help to clarify.

Scholarly Publications:

  • Are written by scholars in a particular field, and present articles based on research in that field (rather than opinions).
  • Are often peer-reviewed, where the content published has been vetted by a group of experts.
  • Provide a list of references/sources used for article content.
  • Article titles tend to be more specific and describe the content being discussed, i.e. "Early American Blown Glass."
  • Publication titles tend to have the words 'journal,' 'bulletin,' or 'review,' among many others.

Popular Publications:

  • Are written by journalists and staff writers for a general audience.
  • Often have a great deal of advertising and may include opinions.
  • Do not include references to other published works.
  • Article titles tend to be witty and try to catch a reader's attention, i.e. "After the Scandal."
  • Publication titles tend to be short and non-descriptive as to the content, such as including the word 'magazine,' or have simply a one-word title.

If you are asked to include only scholarly sources for your research paper or assignment, the best place to locate these types of sources is in the Proctor Library's databases. Feel free to ask a member of the Library staff if you aren't sure which databases might be the best ones to use for your topic, or if you are having any difficulty finding the types of sources that you need. We are here to help you!


Museums and other cultural institutions can be excellent sources of credible, scholarly information.

The Art Institute of Chicago
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Museum of Modern Art, NY (MOMA)
National Gallery of Art, Washington (NGA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM)
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Specific Cultures & Time Periods

Islamic Art & Architecture

It is important to use scholarly and/or academic website resources when doing art history research. Below are a few selections which may be helpful when doing research on Islamic art and architecture.

Discover Islamic Art - A searchable database and exhibitions for Islamic art provided by the Museum with No Frontiers.

Archnet - An open, online architectural library with a focus on Muslim cultures, provided by MIT Libraries.

Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture - Provided by a partnership between Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Islamic Middle East Collection - Hosted by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, U.K.

Also see the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History for a variety of essays about Islamic art and architecture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Close Menu