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About Our Collections

With over 185,000 volumes, the Kohler Art Library is considered a large public art library.  It houses a broad range of traditional and non-Western materials on world-wide art history, material culture, and the making and practice of art.  The library’s collections complement research and teaching predominantly in the Art History and Art Departments and the Chazen Museum of Art, but supports all campus units with interests in visual culture.

Covering all periods of art, the collections include the areas of painting, drawing, architecture, sculpture, graphic arts, photography, and decorative arts.  Types of materials include monographs, periodicals, exhibition catalogs, museum guides and collection catalogues, artists’ books, sales and auction catalogues, catalogues raisonnés, Festschriften, electronic resources (CD-ROMs and DVDs) and art-related videos.  Online resources include a growing array of ebooks, article databases, and image databases such as ARTstor.  The collection also includes photo archives and periodicals on microform, and a small pamphlet file on art subjects.

The art reference room has an extensive collection of art bibliographies, dictionaries of art terminology, biographical dictionaries, exhibition records and histories, encyclopedias, directories of museums and galleries, iconography reference books, signature and monogram identifications, and auction record indexes, among many other types of resources.

The circulating materials are located in:

  •  regular shelving
  •  oversize shelving (near large windows)

The non-circulating materials, which need to be paged and used in the library, are in:

  • audiovisual
  • cage
  • flat
  • lock
  • L130 (and L130 oversize)
  • 160a
  • reference  (these do not need to be paged)


  • Artists’ Book Collection: over 1,000 artists’ books representing over 175 presses and artists from around the world, but with a collection of strength in Wisconsin book art.  A repository of finely crafted and visually stimulating books, the Artists’ Book Collection is one of the most significant of its kind in the country.  The public is invited to visit the Kohler Art Library to get a close-up look at these highly creative publications.artistsbooks
  • Illuminated Manuscript Facsimile Collection: over 100 illuminated manuscript facsimiles of texts from pre-9th through the 15th centuries (Medieval, Renaissance and Mesoamerican).  Examples include the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow, the Joshua Roll, the Vienna Genesis, the Gospel Book of Otto III, the Codex Borgia, the Codex Dresdensis Maya, and the Codex Colombino, among many others).19976321985_5e32b70241
  • Artists’ Sketchbook Facsimile Collection:  over 50 artists’ sketchbook facsimiles of work by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, John Constable, Pablo Picasso, Maurice Prendergast, Jackson Pollock, June Leaf, Richard Serra, and others.sketchbooks_med500


  • African art
  • Contemporary Chinese art
  • Decorative arts, especially ceramics and furniture
  • Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School
  • Medieval art and architecture
  • 20th century German and Austrian art