Visual Research for the Performing Arts

Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. "Designer Alison Chitty's set for the Broadway production of the play "Orpheus Descending" (New York)" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1989.

Visual Research for the Performing Arts

Welcome! This page supports visual research methods for thge performing arts. For tools and techniques for conducting research in theatre, please consult the appropriate research guide.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

Personal Librarian:

Charlotte Price

108 LeFrak Center, Barnard Hall


Online Image Resources | On Campus Image Resources| Research Resources

Online Image Resources

Check out the Columbia Avery Library's guide to online images.

AccuNet/AP Photo Archive
Associated Press archive of photographs from 1844 to the present, audio files of radio broadcasts, text of wire stories, and info-graphics.

ArtsStor covers many time periods and cultures, and documents the fields of architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, design, anthropology, ethnographic and women's studies, as well as many other forms of visual culture. Users can search, view, download and organize images. This one-page guide has information on searching in ArtStor, saving groups of images, downloading images, and more.

CAMIO covers images of art from antiquity to the present, including photographs, sculpture, decorative and utilitarian objects, prints, drawings and watercolors, jewelry and costumes, textiles, books, installations, and architecture - plus audio-video and mixed media.  Some images here do NOT appear in ArtStor.

Digital Public Library of America aims to make the realm of openly available materials more easily discovered and more widely used. This resource offers a single point of access to millions of items including photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images, and more from libraries, archives, and museums around the United States. Users can browse and search the DPLA's collections by timeline, map, format, and topic.

Europeana is a single access point to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitised throughout Europe. It is an authoritative source of information coming from European cultural and scientific institutions.

Online photo management and sharing, including select collections from libraries and museums. Search Tip: Conduct an Advanced Search to limit to Creative Commons licensed material.

Getty Images
24.7 million creative stock and editorial images.

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online Catalog includes photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While international in scope, the collections are particularly rich in materials produced in, or documenting the history of, the United States and the lives, interests and achievements of the American people.

LIFE Photo Archive has millions of photographs from the 1750s to the present. Many were never published before. Organized by theme and era.

New York Public Library Digital Collections provides free and open access to over 800,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's vast collections

Oxford Art Online combines several art reference sources, and has an image search as well as information on art and artists

Tate Collection of images allows you to search by emotion (in addition to other things), which is fairly unique for art resources.

TinEye is the biggest reverse search engine, searching 1.5 billion images. TinEye will provide information on other versions of the image you upload that are available and will attempt to provide the source for these images.

Wikimedia Commons

On Campus Image Resources

Columbia's Avery Art & Architecture Library has over 600,000 volumes of art and art-related books. None of Avery's books are allowed to be checked out, which means they'll generally be easily available to browse.

Search CLIO and Browse the Stacks

CLIO (Columbia Libraries Information Online) is the online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library.

Catalog Search Tips:

  • Use catalog records to identify useful subject headings such as Illustrated books or Pictures
  • Substitute different century numbers, country names, or art movement as needed
  • Remember you can limit search results to items physically held at Barnard
  • Use keyword searches to locate items, and then go to the stacks and browse those items as well as the ones nearby


Browse the stacks using the Library of Congress call number ranges:

GT Manners and customs (including Costume, Dress, and Fashion)
N Fine Arts
NA Architecture
NB Sculpture
NC Drawing, design, and illustration
ND Painting
NE Print Media
NK Decorative Arts
NX Arts in general
TR Photography
TT Handicrafts, arts and crafts

Hudson River Scene

Database and Research

  • International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance: International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance with Full Text contains all of the content available in International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance as well as full text for 100 titles.
  • International Index to the Performing Arts: Search and browse nearly half a million citations, abstracts, and selected full text records in a comprehensive range of journals covering the full spectrum of the performing arts. Subjects covered include drama, dance, film, television.
  • JSTOR: JSTOR features full-text articles, book reviews, and chapters, with a caveat - there's no subject-searching and no articles newer than 6 years ago. But has some of the most extensive coverage of older articles (especially from the 19th and 20th centuries) that you won't find in other databases.
  • ProQuest: Database featuring massive amounts of news articles from all over the country and from a variety of periods of time, as well as scholarly (peer-reviewed) article

Citing and Using Digital Images

This guide from University of Michigan provides thorough information on digital image resolution, printing images, image file sizes, and basic info on using Photoshop (available on the Barnard Library computers) to adjust size and resolution.

If you use an image in a presentation or paper, be sure to find out where the image actually came from - try TinEye or Reverse Google Image Search to locate the original of the image if you aren't sure of its origin. You also want to cite all images so others can trace your work

Cite Source from Trinity College has helpful examples on how to cite art work (as well as many other things) in MLA, APA, and Chicago styles.

For more detailed citation help, check out the Purdue OWL or ask Barnard Art & Architecture librarian Meredith Wisner.