Birmingham Museum of Art's Clarence B. Hanson, Jr. Library

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dubbed "the secret library" by the Black & White City Paper, the Clarence B. Hanson Library located in the Birmingham Museum of Art is a great resource for art historical research. While you may not take the books home with you, they have some resources that UAB's Sterne Library does not have. They are particularly great for researching the library's own works. The registrar of the BMA keeps a bibliographical record of each work, which is available to the public, and the library usually has a copy of each work in the bibliographical records. In short, you can find every resource for works of art owned by the BMA in this library. The following is more information from the library's homepage:

Open to the public Wednesdays 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, artists' 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.

To use the Library's full resources, scheduling an appointment is strongly advised. Please call 205.254.2565 x3944 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to make an appointment.


  • scott davidson

    What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.

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