With regard to its content, the collection links up closely with the museum collection.
Over 80,000 book covers
The main areas of the library collection are history of art, Western European art of painting, the art of drawing and sculpting from 1200 until the present, iconography, iconology and auxiliary sciences (cultural history, restoration and conservation, etc.). The library collection consists of approximately 80,000 book covers, including many exhibition and collection catalogues.
Special sub collections
In addition, the library encompasses a number of special sub collections:
- An interesting collection of ca. 5000 old auction catalogues from the legacy of Oscar Nottebohm. The oldest copy dates back to 1738.
- The collection of the former International Centre for Structural Analysis and Constructivism (ICSAC).
- Part of the holdings of the library of the former International Cultural Centre (ICC).
- Around 80 artists' books.
Magazines, reference works and electronic databases
The library also possesses around 1500 magazines, including 200 current magazines. The principal series and reference works are shelved in the reading room, where visitors can consult the library's electronic databases too:
- Art Bibliographies Modern (ABM)
- Lugt's Répertoire online
- Oxford Art online
The microfiche collection includes the Art Sales Catalogues (1600-1900) and the Marburger Index as well as related series.
Archive and documentation department
This department holds documentation on the museum collection and manages various archive files.
The KMSKA archive file is the major one. It consists of documents that came about during the performance of the KMSKA's museum tasks (conservation, research, making the collection accessible, etc.). The museum originated from the guild of St Luke and became a part of the Antwerp Academy in 1773. In 1810 both Academy and Museum were accommodated in an old convent. In 1890, the collection moved to the present museum building. Five years later the museum became completely independent of the Academy. The latter transferred the reports of the Board of Directors of the museum and the most important dossiers.
The other files or documents were bequeathed or given to the museum in the course of the 19th and 20th century. The archives of 'Artibus Patriae' (1864-1949), 'Kunst van Heden' (Contemporary Art) (1905-19..), Fonds François Franck (1934-1948), etc. recount their function and support to the museum. The notebooks of Max Rooses (1839-1914) and the Henri Hymans file (1836-1912) provide information on the relationships and the history of art research of these authors. The archive of architect Frans Van Dijk contains plans, designs and dossiers on the concept and execution of the present museum building. The department also holds artists' letters and photographs.