Searching for Resources


Textbooks – the Library holds a number of textbooks relating to the fine arts, decorative arts, rare books and manuscripts, and antiquities. To a lesser degree the Library also extends its collection policy to museum studies and conservation.

Museum catalogues – the Library attempts to retain a copy of every catalogue produced by the Fitzwilliam Museum. The Library also holds many exhibition and collection catalogues from the world’s leading museums and art galleries.

Dealers’ catalogues – the Library holds a significant number of catalogues from Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillip’s sales. The Library also holds major runs of catalogues from smaller dealers, such as Agnew’s, Bernard Quaritch and Sworders, and many catalogues not held by any other institution.

Periodicals – the Library holds nearly 300 current periodicals, and holds many titles now ceased or no longer subscribed to. These include major art and antiquities journals, and bulletins and annual reports from museums and galleries worldwide.
Periodical Holdings (Oct 2013)

Microfilms – the Library has microfilms of many of the museum’s rare books and manuscripts, which may be more easily accessible than the originals.


Newton – this is the main catalogue to use to search for resources in this Library. Note that the Fitzwilliam Museum Library is based in Departments and Faculties F-M.

LibrarySearch – this catalogue allows you to search across most of the libraries in Cambridge University; this is useful if you are looking for a particular book not necessarily held in the Fitzwilliam Museum.

LibrarySearchPlus – this is a cross-platform search tool which covers most libraries and e-resources, including some in full text. This is best when starting research for a particular topic.

Ejournals A-Z – search or browse e-journals in Cambridge University libraries.

A number of resources at the Library are still in the process of being added to the online catalogue. In particular, many dealers’ catalogues, particularly Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillip’s, are not yet visible, nor are many periodicals. If you do not see an item on the catalogue, it is still worth asking in case the Library has it but it hasn’t yet been catalogued.


The Library makes use of several classification schemes. Some older classmarks are in the process of being phased out but this is a long-term aim.

In many cases the classmark will have a location code beforehand: 42 NK4645, 41 Athens.2006 etc. These tell Library staff where the book will be found, so please do not omit these when requesting materials from the Library.

Also in the past no effort was made to uniquely identify many books. As a result, some classmarks are heavily duplicated (e.g. NK4645). It is not sufficient to supply just the classmark; please include as much information as possible when making requests.

Library of Congress – most textbooks are classified by this scheme. The Library makes heavy use of D – History, N – Fine Arts and Z – Bibliography.

UL Classification – this is based on a scheme originally produced by the UL. It is being phased out but some older material will still be classified by this. Examples look like: (9) 706, or 476.B57.

Exhibition catalogues – unless they are Fitzwilliam Museum catalogues (all N1217), the majority of these are classified by the city and year of the exhibition, e.g. Paris.2006, New York.1972. The exception is catalogues from London, which are classified under the name of the host institution, e.g. Tate Britain.2012, British Museum.1996.

Dealers’ catalogues – these are arranged alphabetically by the name of the firm in direct order, and then by date of sale. Thus both Sam Fogg and Sotheby’s will be listed under Dealer – S. As there are several thousand catalogues, it is imperative that your request states clearly the name of the dealer and the date of sale, and preferably the title where known.

Periodicals – these are arranged alphabetically by title, e.g. Burlington would be Periodical – B. Currently most do not have a classmark visible on the online catalogue; this is in the process of being updated.

Hamilton Kerr Library

The Hamilton Kerr Institute houses its own library, with books relating mostly to painting conservation. These books may be identified by their location (Hamilton Kerr Institute) or by location code (HKI). Owing to excellent relations between the two libraries, most books from one location may be temporarily transferred to the other for access by readers. If requesting books from the HKI to read at the Fitzwilliam Museum, please be advised that it may take longer than one working day to fetch them.

The Fitzwilliam Museum : Searching for Resources

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