Winterthur Library


Active member
Has anyone had an opportunity to spend time in the Winterthur library? My mother is a member at Winterthur and received a notification that the library is currently studying the legalities for ways to allow for the reproduction of some of their information for private and public non- monetary use. I saw an article in an antiques magazine several months ago where Winterthur compared two of their tables showing highly detailed photos and x-rays. Does anyone know if this is the type of information in the library that members are allowed to study? If so, I need to plan another trip vary soon.

Bob Baker
Vandiver, AL



You may also like to check out The Bernice Bienenstock Library in Highpoint, NC.   They encourage people to make copies of whatever they want.

Dr. Frank H. Sommer, former Head Librarian of the Winterthur Museum stated " This is the largest and most complete furniture library in the world.  The pattern books are the finest I've seen."

I'm amazed at how many people do not know of this great resource.



Well-known member
I've been in the library. It great! they have lots of high quality pictures of the furniture. Close ups of details, and construction. Lots of pictures of pieces in other collections as well. They will reproduct the pictures for you for a fee, but you have to sign a form stating you will not use the pictures to create a reproduction.

They don't seem to mind if you make sketches from the pictures. There are also lots of measured drawings of pieces there.

If there is a piece you want to see you can contact them ahead of time and they will have everything ready for you. They also have a full time photographer on staff and if they don't have the pictures you want to see they will take them for you. But this may take a while.

You can plan a week long trip to just the library and it would be a great time, for you anyway, your spouse may not be thrilled about it though.

Bob Mustain

Well-known member
I could not agree more.  the library is a great resource, particularly for those books that now cost hundreds of dollars, if you can find a copy.  I have found the staff very helpful.  It's also a great way to find particular pieces in the collection and then you can arrange a special tour to see that/those piece/s on your own.  I've found the photography policy to be very erratic.  I've been refused permission on some occasions and then allowed to photgraph the same piece a day later--without any waiver about reproduction.


Active member
Norman/ ttalma

Thanks for the info. You make it almost sound like Shangri-La and the Library of Alexandria rolled into one. I'm going to start planning a trip today. I'm worried now as to if one week would be enough. I've got a list of 17 pieces that I would love to research. But, if the library contains photos and drawings as you describe, one could easily spend am entire day on one piece.

Bob Baker


Well-known member
As a side note, the Williamsburg library is great too.  I didnt ask, but they have photocopiers around the library that I used...martin


Bob, Spoilt for chooses? Can’t be bad (joke)? so Envious, being across the pond.

                                            Joseph Hemingway


Well-known member
"I'm amazed at how many people do not know of this great resource."

Count me in as one of the ignorant - and I live in NC!  Thanks so much for posting that - the next time I'm in the Winston-Salem area, I will definitely drop by.