Using the Library

  • Who may use the Research Library?
    The Balch Research Library is open to all individuals interested in researching and learning about art, including museum staff, docents, volunteers, interns, LACMA members, visitors, outside scholars, students, and appraisers.
  • How do I prepare for a visit?
    Before requesting an appointment, researchers are encouraged to search the Library’s online catalog WorldCat LACMA to identify items that you wish to consult.  To request an appointment, please fill out this appointment request form or call (323)857-6118. We request that a list of the materials you would like to consult be given to us at least 24 hours in advance to ensure that we have adequate time to page any materials located in one of our satellite libraries. Requested materials will be ready when you arrive, provided they are not being used by one of the museum’s curatorial departments.
  • May I check out library materials?
    The Balch Research Library is a non-circulating library. However, research materials are available for consultation in the Library's reading room. Photocopying is available for most materials. For patrons who want to check out library materials, we suggest the Beverly Hills Public Library or the Los Angeles Public Library.
  • May I submit reference questions by e-mail?
    Researchers may submit reference questions relevant to the library and archives subject areas to library@lacma.org.
  • May I reproduce images from LACMA’s collections?
    Some records at collections.lacma.org for artworks believed to be in the public domain offer a download option beneath the main image. For all other works of art, use the link labeled "Order Photography" beneath the main image, or contact the museum’s Rights and Reproductions department at rights@lacma.org to order photography from LACMA's collections or for permission to reproduce any part of the LACMA website.  
  • May I make photocopies from your library materials?
    Yes, you may make photocopies from most of the items in our collection. Researchers must observe copyright laws when making and using copies.
  • May I take photographs of portions of your library materials?
    Yes, you may photograph portions of most materials. However, flash photography is prohibited. Researchers must observe copyright laws when making reproductions.  


  • What electronic resources do you offer?
    In addition to WorldCat for locating books, exhibition catalogs, museum publications, periodicals, artist files, and more, the Research Library also provides a broad range of online resources devoted to the visual arts. Library staff is available to provide introductory guidance for these resources.
  • What is in the Library’s artist files?
    The Library’s artist files, numbering over 35,000 folders, contain exhibition announcements, press releases, clippings, brochures, small exhibition catalogues or checklists, or other ephemera.
  • How do I find out more about a work of art in LACMA's collection?
    You may begin your research with LACMA’s collection website, a searchable database of artworks and related materials from LACMA’s permanent collection, as well as artworks the museum plans on acquiring. An individual database record includes information about the object as well as images and bibliographical information, when available. Since the Research Library supports scholarship related to LACMA's collection, the library staff provides access to library materials, including the museum’s publications found in WorldCat along with subscription databases for research use within the library itself.  For assistance with your research, contact a librarian.
  • How do I find out if a specific work of art is on view?
    You may search the collection website to determine whether a specific work of art is on public display. The location of the object will be listed in its individual record. If you require further assistance, please contact the Library.

 Art Inquiries

  • How do I find out more information about a work of art I own?
    The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) provides guidance under their FAQs: How can I find out about an artist?
  • How can I learn about that value of an artwork, its provenance, or its attribution?
    Museum personnel do not appraise works of art. To locate an appraiser that matches your needs, call or visit the websites of the following professional associations:

American Society of Appraisers (ASA)

International Society of Appraisers (ISA)

Appraisers Association of America (AAA)

While an initial discussion may be complimentary, appraisers charge for their services. Consider researching similar objects before hiring an appraiser. For your use, the Balch Research Library subscribes to auction databases that indicate current market values.

Local branches of auction houses include:


Bonhams & Butterfields

This auction house also features valuation days when patrons can bring in a limited number of artworks for a brief appraisal.