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Archives Collections


What are the Archives?
Our Archives collect, organize, preserve, and enable access to the Brooklyn Museum’s history. Our goal is to help local and international scholars and researchers find answers to their questions and promote equity through expanding access to the historical narrative.

What is in the Archives?
The Archives contain over 80 collections, with the earliest document dating back to 1823. Totaling over 3,200 linear feet of records, they include letters, photographs, bills, layouts, and other documents created by people who worked in all of our departments, from Audiovisual to Visitor Services.

Below are finding aids for 14 collections. Finding aids describe the contents and order of the records, with brief descriptions of the materials each folder contains. They also provide general histories of the departments and biographies of the people who created the records. Archivists write finding aids as they work on, or “process,” collections. Collections that do not presently have finding aids are not yet processed, but they are inventoried on internal databases that can be searched by the archivist [see below]. We are working to provide greater access to our holdings. Please browse and search the finding aids to see the range of material in our processed collections.

How do I access the Archives?
The Archives are available to all researchers on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 1–4:30 pm, by appointment only. To request an appointment (or to search the entirety of our Archives), email archives.research@brooklynmuseum.org. Because of the high number of inquiries we receive, it may take over a month for us to reply. We consider each request carefully and respond as quickly as possible. After replying, we will work with you to schedule an appointment one to two weeks in advance. To keep researchers and our collections safe, when you arrive for your appointment, you will be escorted to and from the Reading Room via a staircase or elevator. We look forward to being of service and enabling everyone to access our history.

Our finding aids are organized into three areas: curators' collections, departmental records, and artist and donor collections.


Curators' Collections

The Guide to the Culin Archival Collection (18711933)
Stewart Culin (1858–1929) was the Brooklyn Museum's first curator of ethnology and an early expert in anthropology. A Guide to the Culin Archival Collection provides a chronology of Culin's life, a detailed description of the collection, as well as a bibliography of publications written by Culin.
View Online Finding Aid


The Guide to the Goodyear Archival Collection (18741940)
William Henry Goodyear (1846–1923) was the Brooklyn Museum's first curator of fine arts and a renowned art and architectural historian. The Guide to the Goodyear Archival Collection provides a biography of Goodyear, a detailed description of the collection, as well as bibliographies of articles and books written by and about Goodyear.
View Online Finding Aid


Departmental Records

Records of the Department of the Arts of Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas (AAPA) (19292001)
The records of the Department of the Arts of Africa, Asia and the Pacific contain information relating to the development of the department including its projects and exhibitions and the research and activities of the curators, including the work of Herbert J. Spinden, scholar in Mayan art.
View PDF Finding Aid


Records of the Department of Asian Art (19252003)
The records of the Department of Asian Art contain information on the development of the department and of the Asian and Islamic collections. The materials document the administrative and curatorial activities of the department, which include records relating to exhibitions, objects and other activities of the curators.
View PDF Finding Aid


Records of the Department of Costumes and Textiles (19112004)
The records of the Department of Costumes and Textiles document the history of the department and the collection. Included are records regarding the establishment in 1948 and operation of the Edward C. Blum Design Laboratory. Through its membership program, the Design Lab influenced fashion designers and manufacturers by making costume and textile works available to members for research.
View PDF Finding Aid


Records of the Department of Egyptian, Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Art (ECANEA) (1890s2002)
The records of the Department of Egyptian, Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Art cover the history of the Museum's Egyptian antiquities collection and the scholarship of prominent staff Egyptologists. The collection features the correspondence of Egyptologists Charles Edwin Wilbour, Jean Capart, and Bernard Bothmer.
View PDF Finding Aid


Records of the Departments of European Painting and Sculpture, American Painting and Sculpture, and Contemporary Art (18972005)
This guide contains information on the records relating to the growth of the Department of Painting and Sculpture, which has recently been divided into three distinct departments. The collection includes information on departmental projects and exhibitions and the research and activities of the Brooklyn Museum curators.
View PDF Finding Aid


Records of the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs (18782001)
The records of the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs trace the history of the department from its early inception. Records of the National Print Exhibitions, held annually or biennially from 1947, are particularly important, as is correspondence with printmakers who sold and donated their work to the Museum, and used the Museum's presses for printing.
View PDF Finding Aid


Records of the Brooklyn Museum Art School (19411985)
The records of the Brooklyn Museum Art School contain information relating to the development and projects of the art school, a non-degree-granting professional school, which opened at the Brooklyn Museum in the summer of 1941. The Brooklyn Museum Art School faculty provided instruction for amateur artists until January 1985. Among its noted instructors were Augustus Peck, Toshio Odate (pictured), Ben Shahn, Donald Judd, and Max Beckmann.
View PDF Finding Aid


Artist, Donor and Scholar Collections

Arthur W. Clement Papers (17941952, n.d., bulk: 19341952)
Arthur W. Clement (1878–1952) was a collector of early American ceramics and an important donor of ceramics to museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum. The papers in this collection relate to his research in American Decorative Arts, his business relationship with museums and curators, and his acquisition of objects.
View PDF Finding Aid


Emil Fuchs Papers (18801931)
Emil Fuchs (1866–1929) was a medalist, sculptor, and painter who was friendly with artists including John Singer Sargent and Daniel Chester French. During his lifetime he accepted commissions by distinguished individuals, such as members of the British Royal family. Included in these papers are his correspondence and an album of sketches, invitations, letters, autographs, and other ephemera.
View PDF Finding Aid


The Guide to the Wilbour Archival Collection (18331935, bulk: 18801896)
Starting in 1916, the heirs of American Egyptologist Charles Edwin Wilbour (1833–1896) donated his collection of Egyptian antiquities, books and personal papers to the Brooklyn Museum. The Wilbour Archival Collection, which includes correspondence, notebooks, squeezes, and inscriptions, provides insight into his research and travels.
View PDF Finding Aid


Guide to the Wilbour family papers (18491896)
The Wilbour family papers are comprised of documents pertaining to American Egyptologist Charles Edwin Wilbour, his children, Evangeline, Theodora, Victor, and Zoe, and his wife, Charlotte Beebee Wilbour. The bulk of this collection consists of letters written to Zoe Wilbour between 1880 and 1885, though documents such as balance sheets, drawings, postcards, calling cards, and ephemera are present as well.
View PDF Finding Aid


Allen Wardwell Papers (17911998, n.d., bulk: 19581998)
Allen Wardwell (1935–1999) was a scholar, collector and curator of Northwest Coast Indian, Oceanic and African art. These papers relate to his research and publications and include descriptions of objects, images, articles, letters, reprints, museum bulletins and clippings.
View PDF Finding Aid