Open to the public Wednesday 1-4 and by appointment.
Located on the first floor of the Museum, the Hanson Library is one of the most comprehensive art research libraries in the southeastern United States. Library holdings include over 35,000 items focusing on objects and styles in the Museum's permanent collection and traveling exhibitions. The Library holds a broad range of research materials including general art reference works, auction catalogues, artist files, periodicals, indexes, exhibition catalogs, and databases. The Chellis Wedgwood Collection, housed in the Lucille Stewart Beeson Rare Book Room, is the largest and most comprehensive special collection in the world related to Josiah Wedgwood and his manufactures, and makes the Library the U.S. center for the study of Wedgwood. Among these holdings are letters from John Flaxman and Benjamin West, and Sir William Hamilton's Collection of Engravings from Antique Vases, known as the Hamilton Folios, the first color plate books in the history of art.
Clarence Bloodworth Hanson, Jr. (1908-1983) was publisher of The Birmingham News and a Birmingham Museum of Art Board member for twenty-four years. An avid bibliophile and collector of rare books, including a fine private press library, Mr. Hanson brought a keen love of history and art to his duties at the Museum. In his memory, Mr. Hanson’s wife Elizabeth Fletcher Hanson (1910-2001) endowed the Clarence B. Hanson, Jr. Library for the benefit of the Birmingham Museum of Art and its visitors.
Due to the unique nature of many items in the collection, patrons may only use Library materials on the premises. A photocopier is available.
Looking for a good book? Each month Librarian Tatum Preston suggests an art-related title that connects readers to the Museum’s permanent collection or visiting exhibitions. Whether you read these books alone, or use them with your book club, each title is sure to stimulate your thoughts and conversations about art.
This year, the April through December selections will focus on civil rights and the BMA’s commemoration exhibition series Art Speaks: 50 Years Forward. June's selection is Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye.
"Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing."