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Archives, Library, and Special Collections

The Barnes Foundation’s Honickman Library and institutional archives provide scholars and visitors access to important resources relating to the institution’s history and collection. Located in the Philadelphia campus, the library is home to over 9,000 books, periodicals, databases, and other resources on art history—especially 19th- and 20th-century artistic movements—art education, visual literacy, philosophy, psychology, and art conservation. The archives includes documents related to the Foundation's development, correspondence from significant figures in our institution's history, and rare books, pamphlets, and exhibition catalogues.

Dr. Albert C. Barnes, c. 1946. Photograph by Angelo Pinto. Photograph Collection, Barnes Foundation Archives

Of particular interest to researchers is Dr. Barnes’s correspondence, which comprises 125 linear feet of letters between Barnes and figures such as Paul Philippe Cret, Charles Demuth, John Dewey, Paul Guillaume, Charles S. Johnson, Jacques Lipchitz, Henri Matisse, Pierre Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles and Maurice Prendergast, Bertrand Russell, Leo Stein, and Carl Van Vechten. This rich collection has now been digitized. View selections from Dr. Barnes’s correspondence with John Dewey and Leo Stein at our new Spotlights page.

View our Archives, Library, & Special Collections online catalogue.

Use our finding aids. These helpful guides to archival and special collections material will help you find and select items for your research.

The Honickman Library and the archives are open by appointment only, Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm. To make an appointment, please review the access policy below and submit a request to visit. For more information, email our Reference department or call 215.278.7280.

Access Policy

Our policy is to make archival collections available to the Barnes Foundation’s community, the broader art and horticulture community, and the general public for teaching, research, publication, and exhibition.

The nature and conditions of research use, however, must be consistent with our commitment to the care and preservation of the Barnes Foundation’s collections. The materials are non-circulating and stored in restricted access stacks, requiring them to be paged from the stacks by archives staff. We expect that researchers will have exhausted relevant secondary sources before visiting our archives.

Access to the Archives

  • Archival materials may be consulted by appointment only.
  • Researchers must make an appointment at least two weeks in advance of a visit.
  • Archival material may only be used under the supervision of archives staff. Some parts of the collection may be unavailable for research due to factors such as incomplete organization or description, fragility of materials, restrictions placed on materials by donors, or restrictions placed on documents to protect the proprietary rights of the institution.

Regulations for Use

  • All coats, briefcases, bags, parcels, and loose books and papers must be checked with archives staff prior to use of the archives.
  • No smoking, eating, or drinking is allowed in the Honickman Library.
  • Researchers are expected to preserve the existing arrangement of the material within folders and boxes. If anything appears to be misfiled, do not attempt to correct it, but call it to the attention of archives staff.
  • Only pencils may be used while working with archival materials. Use of pens, ink, markers, and erasable ink is not permitted.
  • Tracing from or writing on archival materials is not permitted.
  • Laptops or tablets may be used, but they are not supplied by the Barnes. The use of digital cameras and scanners is not allowed.
  • Researchers must use extreme care when handling the material. Many items are fragile, valuable, and irreplaceable. Please report any mutilations. When handling photographic material (i.e., prints, negatives, lantern slides), cotton gloves must be worn at all times. Staff will provide these gloves, returnable at the end of each day.
  • Any damage to items incurred while handling the documents should be reported to archives staff.
  • Researchers who do not comply with these regulations will be asked to leave.


  • Permission to examine archival material does not include the right to copies. The Barnes may decline a request for copying because the materials are too fragile or the request falls outside fair-use standards.
  • Photography of the materials is not allowed. Copies of specific items may be requested; they will be made by staff and delivered as a pdf. There is a limit of 20 copies per visit.


  • Requests for permission to publish must be addressed to Archives, Library, and Special Collections staff. An application is available upon request.
  • The Barnes Foundation archives does not necessarily have copyright for all materials in its collection. It is the responsibility of the applicant to identify copyright holders, and to obtain permission to publish from the copyright owner.
  • We ask that researchers provide one copy of any book, article, thesis, catalogue, or other written or visual products resulting from work in the archives.

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