Robert Goldwater Library

The Robert Goldwater Library is a non-circulating research library dedicated to the documentation of the visual arts of sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific Islands, and Native and Precolumbian America.

For information about the collection, access & hours, and policies, please see the website of the Libraries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.



The library began in the spring 1957 as part of the Museum of Primitive Art. The library's founder, Allan Chapman, always claimed that it began with fifty books and a typewriter. (And, yes, that's the typewriter.) During the Fall of 1976 the Library of the Museum of Primitive Art was moved to the first of several temporary office quarters at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The same year the Library was renamed The Robert Goldwater Library of Primitive Art, in honor of Robert Goldwater (1908-1972), first director of the Museum of Primitive Art. (The "of Primitive Art" was dropped from the library's name when it re-opened to the public.) In 1980 the library relocated to the mezzanine floor of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, then still under construction. The Goldwater Library opened to the public in February of 1982.

Head Librarians

  • Allan D. Chapman (served 1957-1988)
  • Ross Day (served 1988-2009)
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