Brooklyn Art Library – Brooklyn, New York - Atlas Obscura
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Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn Art Library

Leaf through over 30,000 artists' sketchbooks in what may be the world's largest collection of doodles 

Sketchbooks are usually reserved for doodles and unformed ideas from artists, not explicitly meant for public consumption, but Brooklyn’s Sketchbook Project brings these rough drafts to the forefront with its massive library of donated draft books. 

The Brooklyn Art Library houses the Sketchbook Project: a collaborative library of artists’ sketchbooks that’s grown every year since 2006. The Library opened in its current location in 2010 and soon featured more than 10,000 books from 104 countries on six continents.

Today the library is home to almost 34,000 separate sketchbooks, from some 70,000 contributors in over 135 countries. And the project is not only open for people to contribute to, but also for people to browse.For consideration in the project, prospective contributors can visit the library or the project’s website and sign up to receive a blank sketchbook.

When they are added to the library, each sketchbook is given a unique barcode and can be identified by artist, region, or even material. Visitors can come to the library and find amazingly unique, often improvised works from artists around the globe.

All of these sketchbooks are available to check out in the Library for free. The museum would prefer you did not take books off the shelf yourself; instead, just hop over to one of their many iPads and browse through the library’s database to request an attendant to locate and pull the sketchbook(s) you are interested in. Filter your search by medium, topics, artist names, locations, (or just request a random pull) and peruse books cataloged in themes like “Dirigibles and Submersibles” or “Things Found on Restaurant Napkins.” Many sketches from the project are also available digitally on the Brooklyn Art Library website. They even have a traveling version of their library where they can exhibit and collect sketchbooks from the road.  

Know Before You Go

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