Research Collections

Archive Collections

The Centre holds and provides access to archive material relating to the study of British art and architectural history. The collections contain the research papers of art historians, museum directors and curators; dealers; art critics, collectors and other individuals working in the field of art history.

The Centre holds two distinct groups of archive material: the Collected Archives, which are acquired from outside the Centre mainly by donation, and the Institutional Archive, which was generated by the Paul Mellon Centre itself.

The Collected Archives

These consist of the papers of art historians, museum directors, curators, dealers, art critics, collectors and other individuals working during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Many were pioneers in the field of art history. The collections do not include artists’ papers.

The Collected Archives concern research into British art and architecture from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, with the strongest holdings relating to the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The collections often reflect a lifetime’s work and include material compiled in relation to exhibitions and publications, as well as documenting everyday working practices. They include primarily research notes, diaries, correspondence and photographs, many of which are annotated.   

As well as containing important original research and information on artists, the Collected Archives are a rich resource for the study of provenance, collections and collecting. They also chart the historiography of British art history and reveal the networks of scholars, curators, dealers, collectors, publishers, museums and societies that shaped discourses on artistic practice – often resulting in major publications and exhibitions. Some of the collections encompass the entire life of an individual and therefore also reveal much about the history and social history of the twentieth century. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the Collected Archives please visit this page. Alternatively, please search the catalogue. Work in this area is ongoing and new information is regularly added. If you cannot find what you are looking for, or if you have an enquiry, please contact collections staff

The Paul Mellon Centre is an actively acquiring archive. If you are interested in offering your archive to the Centre, please see the guidance available here.

The Paul Mellon Centre Institutional Archive

This archive consists of records created by the Paul Mellon Centre and its predecessor, the Paul Mellon Foundation. These records have been identified as having long term historical value and document the everyday working practices of the institution.   

The records relate primarily to the five main strands of the Centre’s activities: academic events, grants & fellowships, publications, research collections and Yale-in-London. They also include records related to the establishment, development and management of the Foundation, the Centre and its staff. They include reports, minutes, correspondence, and publicity information.

Many of the records contain personal data (information about living individuals) and are therefore closed to the public. Records that are open include Annual Reports (PMC3), Newsletters (PMC7), Press-cuttings (PMC8) and General Publicity Records (PMC10), and the research papers compiled in relation to the discontinued Dictionary of British Painters (PMC35/2).

The Centre also documents the memories, experiences and opinions of those who have been closely associated with its development through the collection of oral histories (PMC59). Excerpts of these interviews are embedded throughout this site.