Reference Library and Photograph Archives

The Reference Library is currently open to Yale faculty, students, and staff who have been approved to be on campus, as well as non-Yale researchers who have been fully vaccinated and boosted, when eligible.

Non-Yale researchers, please email to schedule your visit.

Reference Library

The Reference Library collections are open to researchers of all types who are welcome to browse over 40,000 titles and over 120 current periodicals devoted to British art, artists, and culture from the fifteenth century to the present.

The collections include all of the essential reference works on British artists and also contain resources on British architecture, print and book culture, performing arts, costume, town and county histories, and travel books. The Reference Library maintains a growing and vital collection of art conservation and technical analysis materials as well.

Photograph Archives

The Photograph Archives, located within the Reference Library, is a study collection of almost 150,000 photographic reproductions of British works of art from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century. The archives represents both public and private collections worldwide with a particular focus on collections in the United States, Canada, and Australia. 

The Reference Library’s holdings, exclusive of the Photograph Archives, can be searched online either independently or in conjunction with the Center’s art and rare books collections, as well as through Orbis, Yale Library’s online catalogue.

Hours and registration

The Reference Library is open only to Yale faculty, students, and staff who have been approved to be on campus as well as non-Yale researchers who have been fully vaccinated and boosted and who have not traveled outside the United States within the past fifteen days.

All non-Yale visitors must register their vaccination status with the University one week prior to their arrival. For detailed instructions, please refer to the Guide to Using Special Collections at Yale. Please email to schedule your visit. Reservations can be made in one-hour segments during open hours.

The Reference Library will be open from Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am–4 pm, and Sunday 12 pm–4 pm. 

Pre-registration for Yale patrons is not required.

Previsit requirements

To access the Reference Library, Yale visitors must

  • Present their current Yale ID at the Reference Library door. 


To access the Reference Library, non-Yale visitors must

  • Create an account using our online system, Aeon
  • Register vaccination status with University prior to arrival. Select the long-term visitor option and enter as the host email. Please allow up to one week for your vaccination status to be verified. 
  • Have a confirmed seat reservation at least 24 hours in advance by contacting to schedule your visit.

Visitor guidelines

To use the Reference Library, visitors must follow these onsite rules:

  • Bring your Yale ID or photo ID and check in at the museum's Information Desk.
  • Consume no food or drink.

Research Resources

The Reference Library staff will provide responses to questions about artists and objects in the museum’s collections as well as about British artists. Please be as specific as possible with your request.

Ask a Librarian

Study Room

The Study Room provides access to works in the museum’s Archives, Prints and Drawings, and Rare Books and Manuscripts collections. The Study Room is also used for teaching from these collections, and staff members are available for advice on planning classes.

Learn more

Explore the YCBA's Collections

Over 100,000 records from the Paintings and Sculpture, Prints and Drawings, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Reference Library, and Archives collections are searchable online, along with nearly all of the museum's historic frames.

Begin your search

Philippe Mercier, The Sense of Sight (detail), 1744 to 1747

Contact the Reference Library and Photograph Archives at | +1 203 432 2818 | +1 203 432 7180 fax