Mission and History

The Visual Art Library’s mission is the preservation of art books that document the visual arts of the 20th and 21st century from around the world. The Library’s vision is to create a unique resource for present – and future – artists, art scholarship, and diverse cultural enrichment within our Learning Center.

The founding collection was created by George H. Waterman III in the 1980s. He has been interested in the visual arts since his college years. The result of his effort is a growing Library which now consists of thousands of art related books and ephemera which evolved into the nonprofit Visual Art Library.

VAL is a non-circulating collection that archives artists monographs and biographies, rare books, art journals, auction catalogues, and more. Its scope includes art historical movements and international exhibitions. Curatorial and journalistic approaches are well represented.

The Visual Art Library is particularly important in this digital age because many smaller catalogues and artist’s statements are likely to disappear, as they will not come to the attention of institutions to be recorded. As the digital age evolves and technology changes, it is vital to retain original source materials pertaining to creative endeavors that are formative, and inspirational to the creative process. The Library’s collection offers research opportunities from written words and images that encourage creativity.

As quoted in The Brooklyn Rail: “Waterman’s…collection is a complex web of silences awaiting future completion.” The Library aims to give voice to these silences and become a singularly unique visual art library.