The archives of the Cincinnati Art Museum are an exceptional resource for the study of art history, provenance, social history, and even genealogy, available to Museum staff and to external researchers, authors, educators and students.
The main purpose of the archives is to preserve the institutional records of the Cincinnati Art Museum itself, which date from 1881 to the present. This collection is not only a valuable record of the museum’s own history, but an important resource for the broader study of American art history. Among the highlights of the collection are the records of the museum’s early directors, which include letters to and from many important American artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The archives also maintains a collection of records relating to the Art Academy of Cincinnati, which was affiliated with the museum from 1884 to 1998. Highlights include an extensive photographic collection, and many early student and faculty records. The latter are of particular value to researchers since many important local artists, such as Frank Duveneck and Charley Harper, studied or taught at the academy. Please note: most student records held by the archives are earlier than 1945; later records are held by the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
The archives also collects original records and papers of local artists and art organizations. Just a few of those represented include Lewis Henry Meakin, Elizabeth Nourse, John E. Weis, Mildred Fischer, and Rookwood Pottery. To support this collection, we also hold files relating to many hundreds of local artists. These files, compiled by the museum as a reference resource over the last 100 years, typically include newspaper clippings, exhibition announcements, catalogs, and photographs of artists’ work
Download a list of our archival collections (PDF). This list includes links to detailed finding aids for certain collections available online at the OhioLink Finding Aid Repository.
An appointment is required to use materials from the archives. Our opening hours are Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Please contact us as far in advance of your visit as possible to give us plenty of time to locate resources related to your research and to ensure we can accommodate you.
When visiting the Archives for the first time, you will be asked to show a picture ID and complete an Archival Researcher Agreement.
All requests for access to records in the archives’ collection, or to information in those records, are considered on a case-by-case basis. While the archives aims to provide access to the fullest extent possible, it reserves the right to limit or refuse access to any record to protect the interests of the museum and the privacy of individuals. For more information on access issues, please see the Archives’ Access Policy.
Unless donor, acquisition, or legal restrictions prohibit reproduction, researchers may photograph archival records. No other self-service copying or reproduction is allowed.
If you are unable to visit in person, copies of records can be requested from the archives. Copies can be provided electronically, mailed, or made available for collection in person. Copy requests are normally completed within 10 working days, but extensive requests will be fulfilled as staff availability and workload permits. The archives reserves the right to charge a fee to undertake copy requests; we will notify you if this is the case before making any copies.
Copies of records from the archives may be used only for private study, scholarship, or research. If you wish to quote from or publish in full any record from the archives you must obtain written permission prior to publication. If the museum does not hold copyright for the material, it cannot grant permission to publish, and you must secure permission yourself from the copyright holder.
For more information on access issues, please see the Archives’ Access Policy.
For additional information or to book an appointment:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (513) 639-2978*
Mary R. Schiff Library and Archives
Cincinnati Art Museum
953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202
*Please note, we are unable to answer research inquiries by telephone, which should be sent in writing.
Inquiries are typically answered within 10 working days.
When submitting a research inquiry, please be sure to include as much detail as possible about the specific information you are looking for, including any relevant names, places, or dates that may help us to identify relevant material
If an inquiry requires significant research, you will be encouraged to make an appointment to visit in person. If this is not possible, research will be carried out as staff availability and workload permits.
Are you an artist from the Greater Cincinnati area? Do you have friends or relatives who are, or were? Are you part of a local art group or organization?
If so, you might be interested to know that archives accepts donations of papers and records relating to local artists and art organizations.
As well as documents reflecting the city’s illustrious art heritage, we also want to ensure our collection represents Cincinnati’s current artistic landscape, so we welcome materials from or about contemporary local artists of all backgrounds.
So, if you have documents, photographs, scrapbooks, or other records you think should be preserved and made available to future generations of art historians, please contact the archives.