Skip to Main Content

Art History: Getting Started with Reference Books and Sources

Guide to finding information on historical and current art and architecture.

Print Reference Sources

Reference materials provide basic facts and background information about a topic. They're often helpful at the beginning of the research process.

Print reference resources are available in the Reference Collection on the first floor, behind the Information Desk.  They must be used in the Library. but can be scanned or photocopied.

To find reference books, either use the Library Catalog, consult a librarian or browse the Reference Collection shelves.

Examples of Reference Books

Salvadore Dali Melting Watch

Online Reference Sources

Online reference books, like print reference books, contain easy-to-look-up sources on many topics. 


The databases listed in this Research Guide are available only to Truckee Meadows Community College students, faculty and staff. You will need your TMCC credentials (Username and Password) to access them off-campus.

During Library hours, you may contact the reference desk at 775-674-7602 research assistance. 

Although the Library Catalog is listed separately under Books, it is also a library database, but does not require passwords for use.

Gale Virtual Reference Library

The following reference book is found in the Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Oxford Reference Collection

Oxford Reference Collection

The following reference books are included in the Oxford Reference Collection:

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics  The Encyclopedia features 600 articles on the major concepts, thinkers, and debates about the meaning, uses and value of all the arts. Distinguished scholars from many fields and countries have contributed to this comprehensive and pioneering achievement.  Because the concept of aesthetics ranges across cultures and disciplines, the Encyclopedia gives extensive coverage to painting, sculpture, music, theater, dance, television, film, and popular culture as well as a wide array of philosophical and sociological theories. Of particular note are in-depth articles on such concepts as Autonomy, Formalism, Semiotics, Moral Rights of Art, and Perception. Entries on the aesthetics of France, Russia, China, and many other nations emphasize the international scope of the Encyclopedia

The Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture The Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture is the most current and comprehensive reference resource for the visual arts of the Classical period. It features an abundance of in-depth articles on this field of enduring importance—from biographies to thematic entries on architecture, ceramics, metalwork, mosaics, painting and sculpture. The resource provides fascinating and authoritative art historical and cultural information about art forms, artists, rulers, philosophers, architecture, renowned works of art, archaeological sites and stylistic developments. Notable important subjects include the Apollo Belvedere, Carthage, the Euphronios krater, the Laokoon, Troy, the Venus de Milo and much more. Encompassing over four thousand years of artistry and innovation, this resource spans every art form, medium and civilization from Cycladic, Minoan, Helladic, and Etruscan art to the fall of the Roman Empire.

The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture  The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture is the most comprehensive reference work in this complex and diverse area of art history. Built on the acclaimed scholarship of the Grove Dictionary of Art, this work offers over 1,600 up-to-date entries on Islamic art and architecture ranging from the Middle East to Central and South Asia, Africa, and Europe and spans over a thousand years of history. Recent changes in Islamic art in areas such as Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq are elucidated here by distinguished scholars.  Entries provide in-depth art historical and cultural information about dynasties, art forms, artists, architecture, rulers, monuments, archaeological sites and stylistic developments.