Yale Center for British Art Reference Library


The Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) is both a museum and a center for research. The Center’s close collaboration with the Yale academic community as well as its role as a research institute demands that the collections of the Reference Library extend beyond the objects in the Museum’s collection. The Reference Library is the principal portal for secondary research into the Center’s collections, but it also provides an artistic and cultural context for those collections, supporting research by Center staff and Yale faculty and students of all levels and across many disciplines. 

The Reference Library collection encompasses British art and artists in all media and formats, and to a lesser degree, architecture, from the 15th century to the present. Emphasis is on areas where the Museum’s collection is strong, and in areas of curatorial and academic expertise: British oil paintings, watercolors, miniatures and drawings of the 18th and 19th centuries; British graphic art from the 16th century to the present; and printed books and manuscripts of the 18th and 19th centuries. Within these areas are special concentrations in: portraiture, landscape, conversation pieces, sporting art, animal and marine art, satirical works, color-plate illustrated books, early maps, art instruction materials, and the Kelmscott press, as well as manuscripts and ephemeral materials pertaining to British artists.

The Reference Library supports research by the Center’s staff, Yale’s History of Art Department, as well as other Yale departments and schools, the staff of the University Art Gallery, and Conservation staff across the University. The Reference Library also supports the research of visiting scholars, outside researchers, and the general public.

Departments/disciplines/programs/subject areas supported

The YCBA Reference Library supports the research of the History of Art department, the staff of the Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery. Primary areas of collecting include: British art, artists, architecture and culture of the 16th—21st centuries; the art of the British Empire and its colonies; Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Australian and Canadian art; European and American artists working in Great Britain; and the conservation of art.   

Related departments and programs

  • History (European)
  • Literature
  • Theater Studies
  • Architecture
  • Art

Formats collected

The collections of the YCBA Reference Library include:

  • Serials: periodicals, yearbooks, bulletins, and auction catalogues.
  • Scholarly monographs, catalogues raisonnés, biographies.
  • Catalogues: exhibition catalogues, museum collection catalogues, private collection catalogues, dealers’ catalogues.
  • Reference materials: Dictionaries and encyclopedias of specific subjects and periods.
  • Bibliographies
  • Indexes: General, specific subjects and periods, sales and periodical indexes.
  • Histories: specific and related to British culture
  • Architectural surveys
  • Artist file materials: postcards, announcements
  • Ephemera: small exhibition pamphlets, brochures, online catalogues, websites.
  • Archives and manuscripts: only digital or microform
  • Dissertations
  • Proceedings of congresses and symposia
  • Facsimiles related to the YCBA collections.
  • Electronic access to primary source databases. 
  • Recorded lectures (YCBA sponsored).
  • Websites pertinent to the YCBA collections.
  • Articles: pertaining specifically to YCBA art objects or to dominant themes of the collections.

The following formats are collected: Print, microfilm, microfiche, DVD, online. 

Languages collected

Materials collected are primarily in English, but also French and German.

Chronological and geographical focus

Chronological periods covered by the YCBA Reference Collection include materials with subject matter that spans the 15th—21st centuries.

Geographical areas covered by the YCBA Reference Collection include the United Kingdom, former colonies of the British Empire, Australia, and Canada.

Collaborations within Yale

Established YUL departmental relationships for collection development:

  • Haas Family Arts Library

Subject Librarian

Kraig Binkowski
Chief Librarian, Reference Library and Archives
Yale Center for British Art
(203) 432-2846