ART 370: Museum Studies: Catalogs

Professor McNulty, Spring 2020.

Museum Catalogs

Museum catalogs focus on a period or genre of art found within a particular museum. 

Within these catalogs, you'll find scholarly opinions, conservation reports, provenance, and a bibliography.

Photo of Getty Center

Image source:  Getty Center,   CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

If you know which museum a particular work of art is found within, try searching for a museum catalog within WorldCat.

Your search would be something like this:  "Metropolitan Museum of Art" AND catalog.

Catalogues Raisonnés

Catalogues Raisonnés list and describe all of the works by a particular artist.   Sometimes they will focus on groups of artists, a particular medium used by the artist, or on a particular time period. 

For each work listed in the Catalogues Raisonnés,  the following is provided:

  • titlePicture of the cover of a Catalogue Raisonne
  • images
  • medium
  • dimensions
  • description of various states, or editions
  • discussion of related work, commentary by the curator
  • provenance
  • bibliography of articles discussing the work

Ofttimes, but not always, the Catalogues Raisonnés will also contain:

  • biographical information 
  • questionable works
  • examples of the artist's signature

Search for Catalogues Raisonnés within WorldCat.


Image source:  Google Books.  1830.  Public domain. 

Auction Catalogs & Records


Corpora (corpus, singular) are Catalogues Raisonnés for a particular type of object.  

There are, for example, corpora for:

  • Greek pottery (Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum);
  • Florentine altarpieces (Offner);
  • Stain glass windows (Corpus Vitrirarum).

Corpora are collections of  images and scholarly opinion, are frequently ongoing, and oftimes consist of several volumes published over several years.

An example: 

Caviness, Madeline Harrison.  Stained Glass Before 1700 in American Collections:  Corpus Vitrirarum Checklist.  Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1985-1991.

Search for corpora in WorldCat.