Art Books for All: The Met’s Thomas J. Watson Library

Art Books for All: The Met’s Thomas J. Watson Library

The Thomas J. Watson Library is the main research library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. With its collection of more than one million volumes, extensive digital collections, and online resources, Watson is one of the world’s most comprehensive, encyclopedic art libraries. Open to all visitors college-age and above, Watson supports the research activities of Museum staff and an international community of students and scholars.

In July 2020, Watson launched an initiative to assess and enhance African American representation in its collections. Staff and volunteers have reviewed holdings for more than 500 artists to date and expanded an already extensive collection by 400+ titles and counting.

Join Kenneth Soehner and Jared Ash for an overview of the Met Library’s 150-year past, present and future, and a discussion about Watson as a growing research center for African American art and scholarship.

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Kenneth Soehner is Arthur K. Watson Chief Librarian at the Thomas J. Watson Library, the research library of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. For more than twenty-five years, he has been active in raising funds and working with colleagues to develop the depth and geographic scope of both current publications and special collections. Before the Met, he held a number of positions, including bibliographer and head of technical services at Barnard College Library. He is a Council member at the Grolier Club and serves on numerous committees there, including Chair of the Audit Committee. He was recently elected a member of the Association internationale de bibliophilie. Since 2000, he is Visiting Associate Professor at Pratt Institute School of Information. He has an MLS from Columbia University School of Library Service, and an MA in Art History from the Department of Art History and Archeology at the same university. He has been active in the Art Libraries Society of North America at both the national and local level and served as president of ARLIS/NA in 2008–9.

Jared Ash is Associate Museum Librarian for Special Collections and Slavic Languages at Watson Library. His previous positions include Special Collections Curator and Librarian at the Newark Public Library, and Curator of the Judith Rothschild Foundation. He has published essays on the Russian avant-garde and artists’ books for MoMA, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Van Abbemuseum, among other institutions. He holds a BA with Honors from Brown University, an MA in Russian Studies from New York University, and an MLIS from Rutgers University.”