The Torino Musei Foundation art library is a reference library specialising in ancient, modern and contemporary art history, art criticism, museology, archaeology, ethnography and numismatics. Its main priority is to explore local themes and keep abreast of spheres of interest of the civic museums. The Library was originally established to act as an internal library for the museums and to provide support for bibliographic research into the collections. With the subsequent and substantial increase of the library’s assets, it acquired increasing importance among external scholars. It was therefore decided to open it to the public and to endow it with suitable premises in the new Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, complex, which opened in 1959. It has become one of the most important Italian libraries in this field and is kept up-to-date by regular purchases, donations and fruitful exchanges that foster ongoing relations with several Italian and foreign institutions, making it one of the most important Italian libraries in this field.
Cataloguing of all library holdings follows RICA/REICAT and ISBD cataloguing rules and comprises 140,000 volumes, as well as CDs, DVDs, videotapes and tape recordings. Since 1997 the Library has joined the shared cataloguing system of the national library service-SBN and its entire holdings are now available online by clicking the highlighted link on this page.
The Library owns an extensive selection of Italian and foreign periodicals and subscribes to over 150 newspapers, journals and magazines, some of which are available online.
Over the years the library has acquired many special fonds. Since 1932 it holds a collection of approximately 2000 volumes and a number of Italian and foreign magazines that originally belonged to the Piedmontese Society of archaeology and fine arts (SPABA).
Approximately 8000 volumes collected by Lorenzo Rovere, Director of the municipal museums from 1921 to 1930, were accessioned to the collection in 1950. In the late seventies a corpus of books on the post-World War II artistic avant-garde were collected to commemorate Aldo Passoni.
In 2006 the library purchased an interesting series of publications on the history of ancient Asian and especially Chinese art, from the Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli. At the end of that year the library’s assets were further enriched by the acquisition of an important fonds from the Fondazione Italiana per la Fotografia (FIF). The fonds provides scholars with a large number of specialised texts that are hard to find elsewhere in Italy.
The library’s storage facilities also hold the Archivio Storico dei Musei Civici Torinesi” (Historical Archives of the Civic Museums of Torino). This archive documents the activity and evolution of the municipal museums from their inception in 1863, when the first museum opened in via Gaudenzio Ferrari, until the present day. Its documents also hold memories of the development of the collections, of their locations and of the organisation of the civic museums of Torino. The documents pertain both to the administrative and patrimonial assets of the museums (inventories, acquisitions, donations, transfers of materials) and to their operational activities (documents about the installation of exhibitions and other events are of particular relevance).
Documents are stored in cabinets and metal stacks, arranged in boxes, binders and folders, divided by year and category.
Being a complex, substantial documental collection, in terms of both the size and quality of its documentation, and being crucial to reconstruct the history of Torino's museums and their collections, this material has now been reorganised and catalogued and is currently available and accessible during library opening hours. Access application forms are available at the library and must be submitted with a letter of introduction. Similar application forms are available for anyone wishing to consult documents.
Services for the public
Access to the reading room is permitted to anyone, in any capacity, needing to research topics related to the library's fields of specialisation. An official identity document must be handed in at the entrance.
Within the limits provided by law, photocopies, photographs or scans of library texts and documents for the purposes of studies, research and teaching activities are allowed, prior authorisation. WI-FI access has been provided since 2008. Convenient multiple sockets are available on all tables allowing users to connect their laptops to the internet free of charge.
Inter-library lending services and document delivery are available. Borrowing is not permitted.
Hardback catalogues, updated to 2010 and sorted by author, title and subject are available for the public and as well as other specific exhibition and auction catalogues . The SBN index can be consulted from library workstations, together with Italian and foreign library OPACs, several databases and CD-ROMs relating to the Promotrice delle Belle Arti, the Venice Biennales and late nineteenth century exhibition and collection catalogues.
Monday-Friday 10am - 5pm
Retrieval and delivery of books and photocopy services end half an hour before closing time.
Biblioteca d’Arte (Art library) - Fondazione Torino Musei
Via Magenta, 31
Fax +39 0114429519
Bibliographic information/interlibrary loan applications/document delivery
Information about the Historical Archives of the Civic Museums