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Visual Resources Center

Imaging machines

The Visual Resources Center (VRC) is a hub for image research and production, study and collaboration, print resources on the arts and graphic design, and audio/video equipment circulation for all programs of the Art Department. The VRC image collection, available through Artstor, supports faculty teaching needs in the areas of art, architecture, and graphic design. Of particular strength is a focus on women artists from the Renaissance to today.

Samuel L. Sadow, Visual Resources Curator, is available for student or faculty consultation in areas of art historical research, imaging, digital humanities, and fair use and copyright in the arts.

The VRC is a welcoming environment for all students and a good place for small meetings or study sessions. Students, faculty, and staff are welcome to use the public computer terminals in the VRC to check their email and conduct online research. See more information on available resources.

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Image and Research Resources

Artstor Digital Library:

Artstor contains over 2.5 million images (including over 33,000 images from AU's institutional collection) for teaching and research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. AU's institutional collection also includes visual documentation of the Art Department MFA program's 1st year and thesis exhibitions from 2007-present.

Artstor accounts are required and available to all AU students, faculty, and staff. Email Visual Resources Curator, Sam Sadow (, for assistance with access.

External Image Collections (updated regularly):

Smithsonian Open Access: Close to 3 million images of items from the Smithsonian's vast collections, all in the public domain.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs: Images from the Library Congress's Prints and Photographs Division.

MoMA Archives Image Database: Images from MoMA's archives, including art documentation, ephemera, letters, and photographs of people and exhibitions.

Paris City Museums: Images of over 300,000 works (many in the public domain) from the 12 institutions that comprise Paris's municipal museums.

Graphikportal: Images of the graphic arts from a large consortium of German museums, libraries, and universities. Website in German.

British Museum: Images from the British Museum's collections. Many are available freely for non-commercial use.

The VRC holds bound copies of the Art History Program’s MA thesis and capstone papers from 1957 until the present day. Projects completed after 2013 are accessible in digital format through the main library’s catalog. Papers completed in 2013 or before have been scanned and are accessible through the American University Digital Research Archive (AU password required).

Digital capstones created in EdSpace or Omeka are accessible through the library catalog.

For any questions about access to bound or digital theses, please contact the Visual Resources Curator, Sam Sadow (

This collection has approximately 2,100 art and architecture books focused tightly around the coursework of the Art History Program. Books can be searched through the main library online catalog and do not circulate. There is also a small collection of art-related DVDs.

To search the collection, go to the online catalog search screen. Click on Advanced Search and click More Limits to select the location called AU: Visual Resources Center, Katzen Art Center.

A small collection of exhibition catalogs donated by contemporary commercial galleries (including Lehmann Maupin, Jack Shainman, Cheim & Reid, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, and more). Findable through the main library online catalog. Intended for use by studio art studios and may be used in the Katzen studios on a limited basis. Please consult with the Visual Resources Curator, Sam Sadow (, for assistance with access and use.

A modest graphic design browsing library is available as well as a selection of current graphic design journals such as Eye Magazine and Print. These materials have mostly not been cataloged and do not circulate.


The AV Equipment Office, located within the VRC, circulates photo, video, and sound equipment to students currently enrolled in Studio Art or Graphic Design classes. A valid student id is required, as well as a signed equipment use agreement form. Equipment is included and searchable in the main library's AV Equipment catalog, but there are more detailed descriptions and images of each item, as well as links to operating manuals in some cases, on the Studio Art and Graphic Design equipment blogs. Advanced equipment requires faculty approval. Equipment is available only when the office is open and overdue and damage fees are strictly enforced. 

The AV Equipment Office is open during the academic year. Hours are posted outside the room, outside of the VRC (Katzen 142), and in the photography and graphic design classrooms. Contact Sam Sadow ( with any questions.

The VRC has two flatbed scanners that are reserved primarily for the Art Department's image production needs. However, students, faculty, and staff may set up appointments to use them for their own projects and presentations. 

Please contact Visual Resources Curator, Samuel Sadow, to set up an appointment and arrange a scanning tutorial.