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Using Artstor: A Guide for Students: Finding Images

Finding Images: An Overview

Artstor allows you to search over 270 collections from the world's museums, archives, libraries, artists, and scholars all in one place.

There are different ways you can search for content in Artstor:

  • Browse by geography, classification, or collection
  • Keyword and filtered search
  • Advanced search

Artstor's Collections

View descriptions of all Artstor’s collections on our website at

Search Tips

 You can limit your search to specific data fields such as title, creator, material, and culture using the dropdown menu to the right of each search term. 

  • Search for multiple terms (bombay OR mumbai) (puppies AND kittens) using the dropdown menus to the left of each search term.
  • Use quotations ("civil war") to search for exact phrases.
  • Geography always refers to a creator's country of birth, except for architecture/built environment images, which are based on geographic location.
  • Use wildcards to broaden your search: ‚ÄčAsterisk wildcard: "trap*" returns results for trap, trapping, trapper, trappist; Question mark wildcard: "advis?r" returns results for adviser and advisor.

Viewing Images

Click on a thumbnail in your search results to view an image. On the detail page you can zoom and pan, view the image full screen, and compare it with other images.

Comparing Images

To compare images from search results, an image group, or a collection page, open an image you would like to compare in fullscreen mode and select “compare.” You can then select up to 10 images from your search results or image group to view simultaneously. You can compare details in all images by zooming and panning.


Browsing is a great way to serendipitously discover images. If you are not sure what you are looking for you can browse images by:

  • Geography: Images organized by the creator’s nationality such as Albania, China, or the United States. Note that geography for architectural works is based on the location of the work, not the creator’s nationality.
  • Classification: Artstor enhances metadata across collections by categorizing images based on 16 different classifications: Architecture and City Planning; Decorative Arts, Utilitarian Objects and Interior Design; Drawings and Watercolors; Fashion, Costume and Jewelry; Film, Audio, Video and Digital Art; Garden and Landscape; Graphic Design and Illustration; Humanities and Social Sciences; Manuscripts and Manuscript Illuminations; Maps, Charts and Graphs; Paintings; Performing Arts (including Performance Art); Photographs; Prints; Science, Technology and Industry; and Sculpture and Installations. You can view all images in each classification, or use classification to narrow keywords searches.
  • Collection: Browse all the images from a particular collection, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Panos Pictures, or the National Gallery of Art. You can search within a particular collection by opening the collection, entering a search term in the search bar, selecting “search within results,” and clicking search.
  • Teaching Resources: curated sets of images including art historical surveys and themes in the humanities.

Keyword and Filtered Search

Search for a keyword such as “dress” or “bowl.”  You can then filter your results by geography, classification, and date--or search within your results for additional terms to further narrow your results.

Advanced Search

Use advanced search when you know what you are looking for. Select one or several keywords, such as an artist’s name or a specific work, and choose which metadata fields you would like to search (default is to search all fields).

If you are looking for works from a specific period and location, you can conduct an advanced search without keywords and limit by date, geography, and classification. For example, if you are looking for paintings from the Italian Renaissance, you could conduct the following search:

The search results will include all the paintings in Artstor created by Italian artists between 1400 and 1600. You can link to your search results by copying the URL for the search from your browser's address bar. The URL for this search would be:*;startDate=1400;endDate=1600;geography=1000080;classification=401010