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Archives Access Policies

When using any of the archival or special collections, researchers will be asked to follow the Reading Room Policies and the Archives Access Policies below.

General Policies

  • Processed archival collections are included in the library's catalog and are available to all museum visitors.
  • The researcher agrees to indemnify and hold harmless The Art Institute of Chicago, its officers and employees, from and against all claims and actions arising out of the researcher's use of the documents.

Registration and Access

  • Patrons may consult the collections during the library's public hours; no appointment is necessary.
  • Upon arrival in the Libraries the researcher must complete an "Application for Access to the Archival Collections" form, describing the research project and indicating the collections to be consulted.
  • The archival material must be consulted in the assigned locations in the Libraries reading room and may at no time be removed. No smoking, eating or drinking is allowed in these areas.
  • The Archives attempts to make the original documents available to patrons; in a few cases the fragility of the originals has necessitated a microfilm, photograph, or photocopy surrogate for patron use.
  • Collections may be unavailable for research due to: incomplete organization or description; possible violation of right to privacy of living authors or correspondents; or The Art Institute of Chicago's reservation of first rights to publication of current projects.

Requesting Materials

  • Review the archival Finding Aids to identify what precisely you would like to view.
  • To page archival material, use the appropriate call slips supplied by the reference librarians. A maximum of six items (boxes and/or portfolios) can be paged at any one time. The researcher may use only one archival box or portfolio at a time.
  • The researcher is expected to preserve the existing arrangement of the material within folders and boxes. If anything appears to be misfiled, the researcher should not attempt to move it, but call it to the attention of the archivist or reference staff.

Use & Reproduction of Archives Collections

  • Permission to examine manuscript material does not automatically include the right to photocopy. The Art Institute may decline a request for photocopies because the materials are oversize, too fragile, or fall outside the "fair use" standard.
  • The researcher may request scans or photographs from archival collections: the limitations on photocopying also apply to copy photography requests.
  • Prepayment for photocopy and photographic services is required for all orders.
  • Researchers are not permitted to use digital scanners for items in archival collections.
  • Researchers who would like to take study photographs of materials in the archival collections must consult with the Reference Desk staff and complete the Permission to Photograph Archival Collections form (available at the Reference Desk). The following archival collections may not be photographed for any reason without the explicit permission of Archives staff or the Library Director: Barbara Crane Collection, Irving Penn Collection, and any restricted or unprocessed archival materials.