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This guide provides an introduction to resources that support research in visual arts. It includes helpful pages and links to connect with contemporary art journals, art databases, exhibition reviews, images, and more!

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Exhibition Catalogs

What is an exhibition catalog? 
Exhibition catalogs are books published to compliment a gallery or museum exhibition. They can be published for small one-off shows, artist  retrospectives, and for large traveling exhibitions (usually co-published by a larger distributor). Before the advent of affordable color printing in the 1970s, they were less likely to be illustrated but many of them now contain most or all of the images of the works in the exhibition. Exhibition catalogs contain excellent documentation, such as extensive bibliographies, footnotes, exhibition records, and sometimes primary sources like artist interviews. Importantly, they also contain the curator's insights, with essays and commentary that often will address questions and issues such as:

  • Why were these works brought together for this show at this point in time?
  • The social and political issues raised by the exhibition
  • Local and global partners who helped make the exhibition possible
  • Insight into the curator's relationship with the artist/s

See also:  "What Are Exhibition Catalogues for?" (Art critic Michael Glover via Hyperallergic, May 2020)

Examples of Exhibition Catalogs

How do I find exhibition catalogs at UCI Libraries?

Many exhibition catalogs are published in print format and may not be available online, largely due to the cost of image rights and the high quality of image reproductions that coincide with print formats. The easiest way to find exhibition catalogs is to use keywords in UC Library Search using the artist's name (or collective) as keyword AND the keyword exhibitions. Here is an example of how to do this in a Google Doc with screenshots.

Exhibition Catalogs Online

Several major museums and galleries have started to provide digitized copies of their publications on their websites. Here is a selective list:

Citing Exhibition Catalogs

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) treats an exhibition catalog like any other published book. Like books, catalogs may be listed by title, if the bibliographer thinks the editor is not particularly relevant to the discussion or known to readers. Visit the CMOS 14.236 section for more information, but below are two examples for you to consult:

CMOS Citing Exhibition Catalogs