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Art Materials Research and Study Center


Discover a world where science, economics, social customs, politics, and everyday life come together. Products marketed to artists are a reflection of the stylistic periods in art history. Explore the fascinating relationship between the products sold to artists and how they used them. 

In 1994, the conservation division established the art materials collection and study center as a permanent home for artists' materials, technical information, and trade literature. The collection houses art materials from domestic and international manufacturers, and specially prepared paint samples for future analysis. A small number of gifts have also come from the studios of contemporary artists.

The art materials collection contains more than 18,000 of samples, including a variety of paints, varnishes, and drawing materials. Most of the collection is composed of products manufactured from 1970 to the present, although the collection has several items from the 19th and early 20th centuries. A quest continues to seek samples of art materials that expand the scope and depth of the collection.

The Art Materials Collection: A Personal Vision


Read about the personal vision that led an art materials retailer to not only become an outstanding advocate for the clients she served, but also to assemble an unparalleled collection of art materials for the benefit of future generations of researchers.

Give It to Me in Black and White


A brief history of the method of manufacture involving black and white pigments. These two colors appear so simple, yet both have interesting stories to tell about manufacturing technology.

The Advent of Acrylic Dispersion Primers


What is the origin of modern acrylic primers for artists' use? This is a product born of advances in chemistry and materials research. From humble beginnings, acrylics have gained a respected place in the art materials world.

A Comparison of Historic and Modern Pigments


How do modern pigments compare visually with their older counterparts? Using a spectrophotometer, several old and new pigments are examined to see how they reflect light.  


Visiting the Art Materials Research and Study Center

Open to individuals by appointment only. For an appointment or for more information about the collections, send an email to conservation staff at [email protected]. In your email, please provide details about the subject and purpose of your research.