Museum and Historical Libraries (page 1)

These are libraries that are part of the collections at a local or national museum, or are libraries maintained by historical societies. They are often used for historical research and are open to the public.

(Note: if a library was originally the private library of a wealthy individual or royal personage, I often categorize their library as a private or royal library, even if it has subsequently been donated to a museum or historical society, particularly if the facility has been substantially maintained in its original character.)



The National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.



The Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library in Philadephia, Pennsylvania. It is both a lending library and a research facility, housed in an original 1888 reading room and recently restored by the Society. The library houses more than 70,000 volumes, three-quarters are in German. It is considered the largest private collection of German books in the United States (outside of universities).


7803 (T. Time Chic, photographed by Tadao Ando)

The library at the Shibo Ryotaro Memorial Museum in Osaka, Japan. The Museum and library celebrate the life and works of a famous Japanese author, Shibo Ryotaro (1923-1996), who was best known for his novels about Japanese historical events. The very high book walls appear to be curved in this extraordinary photo, but that is an effect of the camera lens used to capture both sides of the towering space. The Museum and Library were designed by architect Tadao Ando and built in 2001. It houses some of Shiba's personal effects, documents and his collection of about 20,000 books. I'm not sure how some of the taller shelves could be accessed, but… wow.



The Tianyi Pavilion Library in Ningbo City, China. The library, which was built around 1560, is the oldest existing private library of China and Asia, and one of the world's three oldest private libraries. It was built by Fan Qin, a retired imperial minister, who collected 70,000 books, many of them local records and chronicles. It is now an official state records repository and library and is open to the public.



The Francisco de Burgoa Library at the Museum of Oaxacan Cultures in Oaxaca, Mexico. Housed in the Dominican monastery of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, it contains more than 20,000 books dated from the 15th century to the present.



The Rijksmuseum Library in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The library was designed in a Renaissance-Gothic style in 1876 by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers.



The Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice, Italy. The library was designed by Jacopo Sansovino and built between 1537 and 1588. It is one of the earliest surviving public manuscript depositories in the country, holding one of the greatest classical texts collections in the world. It has about a million printed books, 13,000 manuscripts (many illuminated), 2,883 incunabula and 24,055 works printed between 1500 and 1600.



The Reading Room of the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, France. The library was started with the collections of the Abbey of Saint Genevieve, but the current building was designed by Henri Labrouste and built between 1842 and 1850 with a modern iron structure.



The Hayes Library, part of the North Carolina Collection Gallery in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Hayes Library is a reproduction of the fascinatingly octagonal early 19th-Century library at Hayes Plantation in Edenton, NC. Built between 1814 and 1817 for James Cathcart Johnston, a prosperous planter and the son of Governor Samuel Johnston, the home and library were designed by William Nichols who later became the state architect of North Carolina. The room contains neo-Gothic-style walnut bookcases with busts above the shelves, under a pale-blue domed ceiling and in the center of the room resides an early-American eight-sided, eight-legged table, piled with books. The library contains nearly 1,800 volumes, dating from the late 1500s to the 1860s.


7810 (thanks to Guy S. for bringing it to my attention)

The Nottebohm Hall at the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library in Antwerp, Belgium. It Built in the 16th century, it was renamed in 2008 after Belgian writer Hendrik Conscience (1812-1883), an advocate for the minority Dutch language during a time when most of Belgium spoke French.  The library contains numerous books, journals, magazines, old prints and newspapers pertaining to Dutch literature and Flanders’ cultural history. It can only be accessed upon request or when it hosts exhibitions and other activities, such as the Nottebohm series of lectures.