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Finding Images

This guide is designed to assist with locating images of artworks in various formats.


A black and white photo of students in the Washington Square NYU Graduate Arts Center browsing room in 1935.  There are three female students sitting in a half circle to the right of a bookcase reading materials and another older male is sitting to the left of the bookcase.

Washington Square NYU Graduate Arts Center. Interior, browsing Room. ca. 1935 Wurts Bros. (New York, NY). Collection of the Museum of the City of New York. MNY325118.

This guide is intended for artists, art historians, and researchers who need to locate visual resources for their scholarly or creative work. While this guide is geared towards searching for images of art, architecture, and design, NYU Libraries also provides access to many image databases that are not specific to the arts. These databases can be found by going to Articles and Databases and then Image Collections in the Content-Specific column. 

Getting Started

Search tips:

Specialized databases have advanced search capabilities, provide more information about specific images, and deliver more focused results than a general search engine like Google. When using a general search engine, like Google Images, use advanced image search when possible. Google advanced image search allows you to narrow your search based on things like usage rights, size and more.

Searching for Images

Searching for images is different from searching for text sources. Finding an image with text adds extra layers of meaning and your search strategy should reflect this complexity. Search terms can describe the visual qualities of an image or artwork. Terms can also include important information attached to the image - this is called metadata.  

Search terms can include:

  • Artist’s name (creator).
  • Title of the work.
  • Institution or repository which houses the work.
  • Style, school or time period.
  • Type: advertising, architectural graphics, maps, or scientific illustration.
  • Concepts: fine art, painting, engraving, landscape, or portrait

Painting "People in the Sun" by Edward Hopper where there are five individuals sitting outside in lawn chairs on a patio looking towards the horizon.


Creator: Edward Hopper; North American, 1882 -1967, (Artist).

Title: People in the Sun.

Work type (medium): Painting, oil on canvas.

Repository: Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Style, school: American realism, post-impressionism.