Hirshhorn Plaza

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Library supports the research and exhibition program of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and is the only library within Washington, DC dedicated solely to modern and contemporary art.

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Using the library

The Library is located on the 4th floor of the museum at Independence Avenue, SW & 7th Street, SW in Washington, DC. It is open to the public by appointment Monday-Friday, 10 am – 5 pm, with the exception of federal holidays, closures, and delays, by calling 202-633-2773 or e-mailing us at HMSGLibrary@si.edu. Materials must be used onsite. The Library participates in remote reference, interlibrary loan, the museum publication exchange program, and exhibition loans. Additional information on visiting the Library can be found on the Using the HMSG Library page.

Our collection

The Hirshhorn Library houses more than 60,000 volumes and 30 current serial titles, as well as a 41 drawers of ephemeral art and artist files, and a small collection of artists’ book. We cover the documentation and interpretation of major participants, events, trends, and critical discourse of modern and contemporary painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, video, film, installation, performance, and emerging art forms from 1880 to the present. The onsite collection particularly focuses on artists in the Hirshhorn’s collection and on artists featured in the museum’s exhibition program. We also provide onsite access to Smithsonian Libraries’ rich electronic resources, including journal and auction indexes. Additional materials housed off-site at the Smithsonian Libraries Research Annex (SLRA) in Landover, MD may be delivered to the Hirshhorn Library or consulted at SLRA by appointment.

The Hirshhorn Museum Library’s Audio Archive is a repository of 306 digital audio files from 1969 to 2004 containing event recordings of the founding events of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, plus interviews of renowned modern and contemporary artists, lectures and symposium focusing on significant themes in 20th century art. An index of recordings and preview clips are available at the link above, and full digital files may be accessed onsite at the Hirshhorn Library. The original recordings are held by the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Museum history and rights and reproductions

Most historical documents about the history of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture, Joseph and Olga Hirshhorn, and architect Gordan Bunshaft are housed at the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Contact the SI Archives Reference Desk for assistance.

Museum object and exhibitions files are maintained by the museum’s registrar office, as are rights and reproductions for museum images. Contact HMSGcollections@si.edu for assistance.

Get Involved

The Hirshhorn Library relies strongly on interns and volunteers. Volunteer vacancies are posted at the Smithsonian’s Behind-the-Scenes Volunteer Program. The Library accepts interns from library schools and art and art history programs. Please see Smithsonian Libraries’ Internships and Fellowships for upcoming opportunities.

Gift-in-Kind Policy

The Hirshhorn Library welcomes gifts of art books, catalogues, and other research materials. It is in part through such generosity that the Library is able to add value to the contemporary art resources available in our community. Please see the Smithsonian Libraries’ Gift-in-Kind Policy for information on donations. You can also support the Library by Adopting a Book from our collection.