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FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode Island School of Design

Global Textiles: Museum Collections

Museum collections online

Many museums make their collections available for online searching. These free databases can be incredibly powerful. They often include hi-resolution images from multiple angles, exhibition history, and other details.

It can be hard to identify museums that have the type of objects you're looking for. Always ask your professors and other experts because they may have insights! For this class, we recommend searching the collections below. You can browse freely, or perform targeted searches.


RISD Museum      The Met    V&A


RISD Museum : Collection

Metropolitan Museum of Art : Search the Collection

Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) : Search the Collections

Using Museum Collections

Museums are usually happy to share their collections with you if you have a research interest. Half the challenge is knowing who and how to ask!

Do as much information gathering as you can beforehand. Look at the museum's collections page on their website; identify items you want to see both by name and item/accession number. Some museum websites will have a page devoted to researchers, with information about how to make appointments to view items in the collection. The Met's Antonio Ratti Textile Center and Reference Library is a good example. In other cases you will need to be resourceful: look at their list of staff and identify a few people (curators, collection managers) who might be able to get you access. If their email addresses are listed, get in touch directly. Explain your research project and interest in their collections, and ask what steps you should take to view the objects in person.

If you desperately want to see items in a faraway museum, keep in mind that there might be grant funding available to do that. Ask around!