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Founded by Nathan Wildenstein at the end of the 19th century, the collection of the Wildenstein Institute library is devoted to art history and has been constantly added to since its creation over a century ago.

Exemplary in Europe both in terms of longevity and size, the library was initially established to help provide information for a Parisian art gallery.

Under Georges Wildenstein, the library turned into a research library. An art dealer, but also an art historian and publisher, he methodically collected books and archival materials, his aim being to acquire a specialized knowledge of French art with an eye to publication of critical catalogues and catalogues raisonnés.

His successor, Daniel Wildenstein, continued the policy of enriching the library. Under his auspices, the collection was catalogued and its works organized and arranged according to the tenets of library science. Material was classified either by subject or by type of document, and placed in storage areas specifically designed for the different types of documents: monographs, periodicals, exhibition catalogues and sales catalogues. With these considerable additions, the original collection became an indispensable tool for a center of research in art history.

Today, Guy Wildenstein is dedicated to developing the systematic computerization of the library by adapting it to new technology and digital supports (internet, CD-Rom, digitalization) for an ever more coherent exploitation of its wealth of material. Since 2002, the library has also widened its audience: since that date, all written demands receive a reply (either by post, or by the form provided on-line), accompanied by an information file if requested, and an invoice payable to SARL Wildenstein Institute Publications.

As we enter the 21st century, the library of the Wildenstein Institute remains faithful to its original vocation: collecting and cataloguing specialized documentation, and making the resulting body of knowledge available to a broader public.