RKD Nederlands Instituut voor Kunstgeschiedenis

The RKD houses the most important library relating to the visual arts of the Low Countries in an international context, from the late Middle Ages to the present. The library contains more than 500,000 volumes, ranging from general art-historical literature, art dictionaries, monographs, artist’s books, early and rare editions, to an important collection of auction catalogues. The library is continuously updated with new publications, including many in digital form.


The library collection focuses on Dutch and Flemish art. Artist’s books form an important category: special publications, often in small editions, produced by artists or resulting from art projects. The collection contains more than 2000 artist’s books, and new acquisitions and donations are regularly added.

Publications can only be consulted at the RKD and cannot be borrowed. A selection of books can be found on open shelves in the study room, and the remainder of the collection can be requested on site via RKDlibrary. A small number of books can be read digitally, and in time more will be added. 


The collection contains some 4,100 national and international periodicals, of which about 150 are under current subscription. A selection of these is made available in the study room, and the remainder can be requested via RKDlibrary. You can also access a selection of periodicals digitally in the study room using RKDlibrary.

Auction catalogues

The collection of 180,000 auction catalogues is one of the most important in the world, and has special value because of the large number of annotated copies. These are auction catalogues in which the owners have recorded additional information in the margins: prices, the names of buyers and other details. The earliest auction catalogues in the collection date from the seventeenth century.

Recent auction catalogues can be consulted both physically and digitally in the study room. Earlier examples can be requested via RKDlibrary, with the exception of catalogues dating from 1904-1972, not all of which have been added to the database. Material not yet added can be requested on site.


The library has various collections of microfiches: the Art Sales Catalogues 1600-1900, The Witt Library, the Marburger Index, the Theo van Doesburg Archive and the Gerrit Rietveld Archive. The RKD has facilities for viewing microfiches.

Press cuttings

The collection of press cuttings amounts to some millions of newspaper clippings and printed ephemera relating to art, artists and exhibitions.

The collection of press cuttings derives from many different sources: cuttings from Dutch (and to a smaller extent foreign) daily and weekly publications, newspapers, invitation cards, press releases, booklets and leaflets relating to exhibitions organised by museums, galleries and art dealers. The majority concerns twentieth-century art. Because the material is so wide-ranging, the value of the collection as a resource for research is potentially very high; information from these documents is difficult or impossible to retrieve from other sources.

This is a physical collection which can only be consulted in the RKD. The collection is organised alphabetically by artist, Dutch or foreign. You can find in which category the artist has been placed in the description appearing in RKDartists, noted with the location PDO (Press cuttings).

The Press cuttings documentation is partly ordered by subject. These are general articles from the national press, with background stories about art movements, news stories about prizes awarded, as well as exhibition reviews. The press cuttings documentation also includes printed ephemera, such as invitations and promotional material for exhibitions, biennales and fairs.