Hidden Collections of the Brooklyn Museum: Making Auction Catalogs Accessible for Research

Material Description

Auction catalogs are vital for research within the art community and in other disciplines such as anthropology, archaeology, history, economics and the study of the art market. However, auction catalogs are a challenge both in terms of knowledge of their existence and discovery of the content held within them. The Brooklyn Museum Library auction catalog collection represents sales of art with an encyclopedic range of objects from antiquity to contemporary art. The majority of the catalogs represent sales held in America, Europe and Asia, with additional catalogs from the Middle East. An estimated 50% of the catalogs represent sales of American art, ethnographic art (African, Oceanic, Native American) and the arts of Latin America. Several of these curatorial areas are underrepresented in research collections as well as lack coverage in traditional art indexing tools. The subject coverage includes fine arts, decorative arts and ethnographic objects. The publication dates range from the nineteenth century up to the present period. The catalogs showcase objects offered in public sales and very often feature entire personal and private collections. Rich with textual and visual documentation, the catalogs offer insight into the art market and the provenance of each object. Many of the catalogs include sale price or ownership information that is hand annotated or printed. Preliminary searching indicates that close to 50% of these catalogs are not listed in WorldCat.

Year Added:



Brooklyn Museum


Deirdre Lawrence


Date Range

1819 - 2012

Geographic Scope

The materials represent art produced in all geographic regions of the world: the Americas(North/South), Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Oceania.