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Research archive

Research services | Archive | Resources | Enquiry form | James Gleeson Interviews | Collection Study Room

General collections

As well as a general coverage of art history, the Gallery's Research Library has particular strengths in line with that of the national art collection:

  • Aboriginal Art
  • Australian Art
  • Asian textiles
  • Ballets Russes
  • Contemporary art worldwide
  • Selected areas of African, Oceanic and Pre-Colombian Art

Special collections

  • Contemporary auction sale catalogues
  • Contemporary Exhibition catalogues
  • Crystal Palace Exhibition materials
  • Nineteenth Century Auction Sales
  • Nineteenth Century Decorative Arts
  • Nineteenth Century Periodicals
  • Nineteenth Century Photography
  • Paris Salon catalogues

Ephemera collection and artists’ files

The Ephemera collection consists of more than 80 000 files containing information on the National Gallery of Australia, on Australian art schools and galleries, and on Australian and International artists, museums, collectors and curators. Files may contain any of the following types of documentation, press releases, obituaries, exhibition notices, invitations, flyers, posters, photographs, newspaper clippings and other printed ephemera, as well as biographical information.  The files are divided between Australian and International material, and their scope reflects the collecting areas of the National Gallery.  
The Research Library is currently cataloguing the Ephemera collection under the artist or organisation’s name.

The Research Library also collects the Gallery’s own publications and ephemera.  It holds a significant collection of NGA exhibition catalogues, pamphlets, postcards, posters, audiovisual material, invitations, reviews and press releases relating to exhibitions. It includes ephemera from all of the Gallery’s exhibitions listed by date and title.

Fernand LÉGER Les Trapézistes [Trapeze artists] 1954 Purchased 1981 © Fernand Léger/ADAGP. Licensed by Viscopy More detail

Archives and manuscripts

The Research Library Archive collects manuscripts and other unpublished written records to document Australian visual art history.  In a library context, manuscript collections include handwritten, typescript and electronic material in formats such as diaries, letters, scrapbooks, albums, sketchbooks, notebooks, photographs and printed ephemera.

The Research Library Archive selectively collects the papers of Australian artists in all media as well other related visual arts areas, including commercial galleries, art dealers, critics, institutions and societies.  Entries on these collections are becoming available through the Library catalogue .

Audio visual

The Research Library holds documentary audio and video recordings both published and unpublished, including recordings of many National Gallery events and interviews with artists, are held in both Library and Archive. These are being listed in the Library catalogue and available for consultation in the Library reading room. 

There is also an important collection of 98 interviews by the artist James Gleeson conducted in the late 1970s called the James Gleeson Oral History Collection  available for research and study.


  • For inquiries about rare books, call 02 6240 6530, or email
  • For inquiries about archives and special collections, call the Project Archivist, 02 6240 6592 or email
  • For information regarding use of the Research Library, call the Reference Desk, 02 6240 6530 or email