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Objects as History: From Prehistory to Industrialization

A guide to research tools, resources, techniques for PLHT 1000

Reference Sources

If you are writing about a work of art from a museum, start with these resources.  Preliminary research using reference sources is helpful for:

  • Gaining context.
  • Identifying keywords to use when searching for books and articles.
  • Finding recommended books and articles.

1. Online Encyclopedias

2. Museum websites

Search tips for the Metropolitan Museum of Art website:

  • Search the website using the object's "accession number".
  • View the "Selected References" and "MetPublications" sections of an item page to find readings on an object.  Locate books using the library catalog. Locate articles using the library catalog or Google Scholar on the library website. Many of the Met's books and other publications are now available online through their website (MetPublications) and through Google Books.
  • Find keywords that can be used to search for books and articles. 
  • Explore the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History and Essays.
  • Download the 82nd & Fifth app to see selected objects in detail. 

3. Museum signage

Photograph the signage for future reference, and take note of the museum collection or exhibition and the date of your visit.  See how to cite museum labels.

4. Your textbook

Or look in the N 5300 section at the University Center Library. View bibliographies section to find recommended books and articles.

5. A note about Wikipedia

Wikipedia is not an authoritative source and is not suitable for scholarly research.  However, references such as newspapers, online magazines, and books found in Wikipedia articles can be valuable sources.