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Art, Architecture, and the Built Environment

Bibliographer (Design & Art History): Hannah Bennett, (215) 573-4635,

Penn's programs in the arts and library collection development in support of the arts are complex; collection development responsibilities are distributed among a number of bibliographers and libraries, and some resources are dispersed. This policy governs the activities of the Anne & Jerome Fisher Fine Arts Library. See Section VII below for the responsibilities of other libraries in support of the arts.

I. Program Information

The Fisher Fine Arts Library, the University's principal library for the arts, supports the research and teaching of faculty and students in the School of Design, the Department of the History of Art (SAS), the College of Liberal & Professional Studies, and a number of interdisciplinary graduate group programs.

The School of Design, founded in 1890, prepares students for practice by offering Master's degree programs in Architecture, City and Regional Planning, Fine Arts (painting, sculpture, combined media, printmaking), Historic Preservation and Landscape Architecture; it also has Ph.D. and M.S. programs in Architecture, and in City and Regional Planning. Certificate programs in Urban Design, Real Estate Design and Development (in cooperation with the Wharton School), Historic Preservation, Landscape Studies, and City and Regional Planning offer students working toward professional degrees the opportunity to gain expertise in these areas. The School of Design seeks to increase the understanding of art, design, and the social processes by which environments are created by offering undergraduate programs in Design of the Environment, Fine Arts, Digital Media Design, and Urban Studies. The overall Design program emphasizes the design process, the combination of theory and practice through studio and research activity, and urbanism. The School of Design admits about 200 new students each year.

The Department of the History of Art, formed in 1960, offers an undergraduate major and undergraduate courses in Ancient Near Eastern art, Egyptian, Islamic, South Asian, East Asian, Greek, Roman and Etruscan; Early Christian and Byzantine; Medieval; Italian Renaissance; Northern Renaissance and Baroque; Nineteenth and Twentieth Century; and American and Contemporary Art. The Graduate Group in the History of Art, which consists of members of the Department, faculty from other Penn departments, and curators and scholars from other Philadelphia institutions, offers courses leading to the A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in the fields above as well as in Ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian art, Islamic art and South Asian art. The Group admits about 10 new students each year.

The Graduate Group in Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World (AAMW) is an interdisciplinary program of courses leading to the Ph.D. degree in the ancient cultures surrounding the Mediterranean basin, and the Graduate Group in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies offers courses in East Asian art leading to the A.M. and Ph.D. degrees. Other programs across the university, including American Civilization, Classical Studies, Communications, English, Folklore and Folklife, History, Urban Studies, Urban Policy, Urban Transportation, and the Institute for Environmental Studies draw upon the resources of the Fisher Fine Arts Library.

II. Collection Description

The collection of the Fisher Fine Arts Library (ca. 225,000 volumes as of 4/14) is strongest in architecture, city and regional planning, landscape architecture, historic preservation, studio arts and the history of art. The holdings of art historical works (in contrast with works in architectural history) published at the end of the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth vary in depth. The collection is increasingly global in nature.

The Fine Arts Library houses the Perkins Architectural Library, a collection of about 3,000 major works on architecture published from the sixteenth century through the twenty-first. The Perkins Architectural Library supports research and teaching in several aspects of architectural history, including neoclassicism, the picturesque, military fortifications design and modernism. The collection is available to users by appointment.

Current collecting trends emphasize monographic treatments of artists' and architects' work globally; research-level coverage of building type studies; architectural theory, practice and technology (including building performance and systems, materials and structure); architectural code and cost data; design and drawing; architectural details and motifs; architectural guidebooks; landscape architecture; the design aspects of regional planning; and historic preservation. Current emphases in studio arts include contemporary painting and decorative arts (e.g., ceramics).

The Fine Arts Library provides access to electronic resources in the form of bibliographic databases; electronic journals and books, and text and image files. Resources focus on artistic movements, individual artists and architects, and iconography.

The Library's collection of dvds in architecture and art focuses on modern and contemporary creators.

N. B. The University Museum Library offers substantial visual arts collections in many areas.

III. Guidelines for Collection Development

  1. Chronological

    Collecting begins with the rise of monumental sculpture and architecture in the Mediterranean (ca. sixth century B.C.) and continues through the art of the present day. Egyptological works are collected by the University Museum Library. The work of architects currently in practice is a focus of collecting.

  2. Formats

    Formats include books (monographs, bibliographies, catalogues raisonnes, indices, dictionaries, encyclopedias), CD-ROMs, exhibition catalogs, journals, reports by public and private agencies, conference proceedings, dissertations, microforms, electronic journals and bibliographic databases. The electronic journals are acquired and made accessible through the Penn Library web. In addition selected sites on the web are chosen for ready access through the Fine Arts Library home page.

  3. Geographical

    The Fine Arts Library concentrates on Europe (including Russia) and the United States but provides coverage for Latin America, East Asia and South Asia. The Library also documents the physical development of Philadelphia and its surrounding region. Publications on world art are added selectively.

  4. Language

    English and the languages of Western Europe (especially German, Italian and French) are the principal languages collected. A small number of titles in Russian are added. Works in East Asian languages are housed in Van Pelt.

  5. Publication Dates

    Most purchasing is of current publications. However, since publications in art have a long shelf life older works especially catalogues raisonnes and key exhibition catalogs, continue to be important and are acquired through gift and limited, but regular purchase.

IV. Principal Sources of Supply and major Selection Tools

Many domestic and foreign publications are acquired through library-wide approval plans with YBP, Touzot, Harrassowitz and other vendors, but in addition to the major approval plans, the Fine Arts Library receives materials from Worldwide Books (exhibition catalogs), Joseph Fox (certain architectural journals), and through the international antiquarian book trade.

Arntzen and Rainwater's Guide to the Literature of Art History (Chicago: ALA, 1980) has lasting value for selection. Recommendations from faculty and students are welcomed.

V. Subjects Collected and Levels of Collecting

Subject Collected Levels of Collecting
Ancient Near Eastern 2/3F
Byzantine 3/3/4F
Early Christian 3/3/4F
East Asian 2/3E
European 3/3/4F
Greek, Etruscan, Roman 3/3/4F
Islamic 2/3/4F
Latin American (colonial period) 2/3F
Latin American (19th & 20th centuries) 2/3F
South Asian 3/4E
Urban Design 3/3/4F
Note: The Library acquires resources documenting the architecture and physical development of Philadelphia and the surroundings region.
Computer-assisted design 2/3E
Geographic information systems 1/3F
Historical and contemporary aspects 3/3/4F
Philadelphia region planning, documentation and land use mapping (historical aspects) 3/4E
Urban landscapes studies 3/4F
Urban spaces 3/4F
Art and Crafts Movement 2/2F
Contemporary 2/3F
Furniture 2/2F
Stained Glass 2/2F
Note: The collections of the University Museum Library are substantial in decorative art.
Europe 3/3/4F
United States 3/3/4F
Latin America (19th & 20th centuries) 2/3F
South Asia 3/4E
Europe 2/2F
United States 2/2F
Note: Both the Fine Arts Library and Van Pelt Library collect in the broad area of arts interaction and in the borderlands of art (e.g., art and politics; art and technology).
Ecological and Environmental Design 3/3F
Garden History 3/4F
Europe 3/3/4F
Latin America 2/3F
United States 3/3F
Byzantine 2/3F
Early Christian 2/3F
East Asia 2/3E
Europe 3/4F
Islamic 3/3F
Note: Islamic painting refers essentially to decoration of objects and buildings, and to miniature painting.
Latin America (19th & 20th centuries) 2/3F
South Asia 3/4F
United States 3/4F
Technique, historical aspects 2/3F
Technique, historical aspects 2/4F
Note: Photography which is primarily documentary or journalistic in nature (e.g., the work of Margaret Bourke-White or Robert Capa) is acquired by Van Pelt Library.
Early Christian 3/3F
East Asia 2/3F
European 3/3/4F
Greek, Etruscan, Roman 3/3/4F
Islamic 3/3F
Note: Islamic sculpture refers essentially to sculptured or stuccoed decoration of building surfaces.
Latin America (19th & 20th centuries) 2/3F
South Asia 3/4E
United States 3/3/4F

VI. Subjects Excluded

The study and teaching of, and popular how-to aspects of most subjects are out of scope. Art auction and sales catalogs are not collected, (there is an historical collection in the University Museum Library). Works on art therapy and children's art are not collected. Advertising and commercial art, costume, caricature, decorative art, cartoon art and industrial arts are collected selectively.

VII. Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections

The University Museum Library collects prehistoric art and ethnographic art (including Pre-Columbian, Native American, African, Oceanic, Primitive and Tribal art). The University Museum Library also collects in archaeology of all places and periods, Egyptology, the decorative arts of gems, rings and vases, and the artifactual arts of enamel, clay, wood, glass, ivory, metal and textile.

Van Pelt Library collects in a number of subject areas which support the programs of the School of Design and the Department of the History of Art; these subjects include: urban economics, sociology, zoning, land use, transportation and highway engineering and public policy. Van Pelt Library collects works on East Asian art in the Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages and works on the arts of the book.

Materials documenting Greek and Roman civilization are found in both Van Pelt and University Museum libraries, and the collections of the Center for Judaic Studies are available to complement the collections on Jewish art and symbolism in the Fine Arts Library.

The Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, which is administered by the School of Design, is in the same building as the Fisher Fine Arts Library. The Archives collects and preserves the works of over 250 designers from the eighteenth century to the present.

The library collections of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Athenaeum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the University of the Arts, Moore College of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Library Company of Philadelphia are relevant and available to the researcher.

The Library resources at Bryn Mawr and Princeton are especially strong in the arts.