Cataloging Contemporary Art Exhibition Catalogs A Spring 2010 Pratt SILS Practicum Project at the Thomas J. Watson Library, Met Museum By Jenny Mathias
Metropolitan Museum of Art Mission of the Met Museum is to have the greatest encyclopedic collection of art in the world, including modern and contemporary art.
Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art The main mission of the Watson Library is to support the curatorial research at the Met Museum. Thus Watson’s collection must also be encyclopedic
It all started with a question… How can we know who the next Picasso, Michelangelo, or Manet working today is? How do we know whose exhibition catalogs to collect? What if we just collect them all?
The Contemporary Catalogs Project is Born! What if we just solicit donations for them all? How can we know who the next Picasso, Michelangelo, or Manet working today is? How do we know which exhibition catalogs to collect?
What is an exhibition catalog? An exhibition catalog documents a given art related event, at a given place, held over a given period of time “Strictly speaking, an exhibition catalog is a work published to document an exhibition,and includes a list of works exhibited. It may or may not contain additional information, such as illustrations, introductory essays, analyses of the works of art, biographical information on the artists, etc. In recent years there has been a trend to publish what can be termed "exhibition publications," which document or complement an exhibition butwhich may or may not include a list of the works exhibited. Often these publications will state, "Published on the occasion of an exhibition held..." or, "Published to accompany the exhibition..." … The term "exhibition catalog" should not exclude exhibition publications which are not strictly a catalog.” – from “Cataloging Exhibition Catalogs: Best Practices” by ARLIS/NA Cataloging Advisory Committee
Solicitation Workflow Criteria for selection: current, cutting edge art from around the world (no “crafty art”, no “living room art”)
Cataloging Exhibition Catalogs Good MARC records: Are formulated according to AACR2, ISBD, or RDA Are written in English 008 field is coded properly 020 ISBN (if available) 050 and 090 LC Call Number 1XX and 7XX LC name authority access points for artists, curators, authors of essays, venue(s) 245 title access point 260 publication information 300 physical description 500 exhibition dates and venue(s) note 504 bibliographic references note 041 and 546 language code and note (if item is in multiple languages) 6XX LC subject access points 998 initials and cat date 904 donor information
So What? Watson Library has received and cataloged more than 8,000 contemporary exhibition catalogs – the largest collection of contemporary art catalogs available to the public in NYC “Because of the ephemeral nature of most exhibits, art exhibition catalogs have become powerful tools for research… Researchers use exhibition catalogs to delve into the provenance of works of art, pursue intensive studies of collecting and the art market, track the rise and fall of art movements, and trace the movement of works from artist to dealer to successive owners.” -- Guidarelli & Carey, librarians at Virginia Commonwealth University According to the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, exhibition catalogs, “are essential for contemporary art research because most young artists are first ‘published’ in an exhibition catalog…Especially in contemporary art, scholarship in the past several decades has shifted towards a focus on exhibition catalogs rather than books published by commercial publishers.”
Questions? Jenny Mathias, Technical Services Intern, Thomas J. Watson Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art firstname.lastname@example.org http://catalogingcontemporaryexhibitioncatalogs.wordpress.com/