The Display of Art: Exhibitions, Biennials, Salons: Indexes to Art Exhibitions & Catalogs

Definitions and resources related to historical and contemporary exhibitions.


Exhibition catalogs are a permanent record for a temporary event. Originally, the catalogs contained a simple list of the works included in the exhibition--usually indicating the artist's name, the name of the work, and the date it was made. These lists were distributed to viewers who attended the exhibition. Eventually more information was added such as images, scholarly essays, chronologies, biographies of the artists, individual analysis of the work, bibliographies. As the catalogs expanded, they began to look more like books and to be distributed as important publications. Because books and catalogs often appear the same, it is important to keep in mind the original purpose of the catalog--to document an exhibition of a certain set of artworks that were assembled for a limited time in a specific location.     

Exhibition catalogs are usually treated by libraries like other publications and the records for them can be found in library catalogs by doing a subject or title or keyword search. Searching WorldCat, the British Library catalog, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France catalog, as well as specialized catalogs such as Art Discovery will reveal thousands of exhibition catalogs.

Indexes to Exhibitions

Most of these publications offer two sections. The first is a year by year record of the exhibitions for the institution or organization while the second part is an index by artist's name to the exhibitions in which the artist participated. The purpose of these records is to document the work of individual artists as well as to provide a record of what was on display in a specific exhibition.  
American Exhibitions

British Exhibitions

Canadian Exhibitions

Latin American Exhibitions

Print Exhibitions

Watercolor Exhibitions