The Frances Mulhall Achilles Library at the Whitney Museum of American Art is a comprehensive research collection in the field of twentieth-century and contemporary American art. It was originally built on the personal libraries of the Whitney's founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and its first director, Juliana Force.
Of paramount importance to American art research and scholarship, today’s collections of books, periodicals, archives, and special collections are accessed by the Whitney’s own staff as well as by visiting scholars and researchers. Combined, the Library’s resources chronicle the development, over seventy-five years, of an institution committed to American art and artists.
Access to the Collections
The Frances Mulhall Achilles Library is open by appointment to all researchers interested in secondary resources relating to the Museum, its history, exhibitions, permanent collections, and artists.
Researchers may request to consult library materials on site at the Frances Mulhall Achilles Library & Archives in West Chelsea. Reading Room appointments are limited and researchers must submit their request for materials a minimum of two weeks prior to when they would like to visit.
Art Resources From the Mid-twentieth Century is a collaborative project between the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum that presents digitized highlights from the personal libraries of Juliana Force and Hilla Rebay, the museums' respective inaugural directors. This collaboration was generously funded in part by a grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).
The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum have each played a key role in shaping New York's vital cultural landscape, contributing significantly to the history of art and culture in the United States. Both founded in the 1930s, these museums were also each led by women who served as inaugural directors—the Whitney by Juliana Force, long associate of founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and the Guggenheim, then the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, by Hilla Rebay.
Each director acquired a considerable library during her tenure, collecting materials ranging from gallery announcements to the rare and unusual periodicals and books of that period. These important resources influenced the two women, who in turn influenced the vision and development of their respective institutions and the exhibitions produced.
Working in partnership to both preserve and make Force's and Rebay's personal libraries more widely available, the Whitney Library and Guggenheim Library digitized key material from each. The digitized selections, which are displayed together on the Internet Archive to highlight their commonalities and differences, are of special interest to curators, art historians, and other researchers and scholars, including those focusing on museum studies, women's studies, exhibitions and the history of New York City.