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Art: Exhibition Catalogs


Exhibition Catalogs

What is an exhibition catalog? 
Exhibition catalogs are books published to compliment a gallery or museum exhibition. Early exhibition catalogs often only contain a list of the works exhibited, but in general, these publications will vary in scale (from a printed sheet to a lavish hard cover). Usually though, they have at least one introductory essay, footnotes, a bibliography, and other critical discourse. They can be published for small one-off shows, retrospectives, and for large traveling exhibitions (usually co-published by a large distributor). Exhibition catalogs contain valuable information into the curator's insights, with essays and commentary that often will address questions and issues such as:

  • Why were these works brought together under one roof 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
















The front page of the exhibition catalog for "Womanhouse" (January 30 – February 28, 1972), feminist art exhibition organized by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, co-founders of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Feminist Art Program.

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. Here is the easiest way to search for exhibition catalogs at UCI Libraries:

Keyword Searching in UC Library Search:  Start with a keyword search using the artist (or collective) name and keyword: exhibitions, unless you know the exact title of the exhibition. A vast majority of exhibition catalogs will contain a  subject heading  to identify it as an exhibition catalog, which makes your search a little easier.

Often times, records will include a notes field to give you more details about the publication. For example:

Browse the record's subject headings which can help you identify if it is in fact an exhibition catalog if there are no helpful notes.

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