The Library of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź is one of the oldest libraries dedicated to art in Poland. It was opened along with the museum; the Reading Room was opened on October 1, 1933.
Initially, the Library was holding mainly the collection of history and fiction books of the Bartoszewicz family, including also a substantial collection of antique prints, as well as a significant body of archives, the famous “Bartoszewicz’ Files”. Later, majority of this collection of books was deposited at the City Public Library, while the archives were moved to the State Archives in Łódź. In 1968, Ryszard Stanisławski, director of the Muzeum, made a decision to expand the organisational structure of the institution by establishing a Scientific Documentation Department, which incorporated the Library and Museum Archives.
The Museum Library collection has been developed as a specialist book stock devoted to art history and related humanities. It includes a vast holding of over 40 thousand items, almost 23 thousand of national and international exhibition catalogues with numerous catalogues of Polish exhibitions since the 1960s. There is also a separate collection of valuable publications from the interwar period.
In addition, the Department holds several dozen thousands of invitations, folders, and ephemera published by galleries and museums, as well as a solid body of magazines including: „Art Press”, “Artfrorum”, “Art International”, ”Art in America”, ”Kunst Forum”, ”Frieze”, ”October”, ”Leonardo”, ”MA” reprint, ”Sztuki Piękne” [Fine Arts], ”Maski” [Masks], ”Fotograf Polski” [Polish Photographer], ”Świat Fotografii” [The World of Photography], ”Fotografia” [Photography]. The collection is expanded with acquisitions, donations but also through the exchange of publications with many institutions, such as: Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Sprengel Museum in Hannover, K20 K 21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf, Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, The Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
The most valuable documents relating mainly to broadly understood avant-garde are kept in special documentation collection. This collection includes, inter alia, archives of F. & S. Themersons, A. Nacht–Samborski, W. Strzemiński, the collection of ”The a.r. Group Library” and publications from the pioneer avant-garde period of the 1st half of the 20th century, letters and artists’ correspondence, as well as an interesting collection of prints and ephemera of the Polish neo-avant-garde of the 1970s and 1980s.
Muzeum Sztuki Library holds, inter alia:
books by Jan Brzękowski from the 1920s and 1930s illustrated by Hans Arp, Max Ernst or designed by Fernand Léger or Rafał Malczewski,
theoretical works of Leon Chwistek and Witkacy,
„Karol Hiller’s ex librises. Fourteen bookplates with introduction by Przecław Smolik” (1927),
„Futurism. A Tram Across the Street. Prose Epitomes and Poems” by Jerzy Jankowski (1920),
„A Shoe in the Buttonhole” by Brunon Jasieński (1921),
„Colours. Poems” by Stanisław J. Lec [graphic layout of the cover designed by a painter Otto Hahn] (1933),
„Futurist Rhythms and Futurist Landscapes” by Stanisław Młodożeniec (1934),
„Emil Zegadłowicz’ Ten Ballads about he Beskid Gadabouts” by Emil Zegadłowicz – [with colour woodcuts by Zbigniew Pronaszko] (1929),
„Songs of the Republic of Poland ” by Jalu Kurek [with the cover designed by Kazimierz Podsadecki] (1929),
„New Mouth. A Lecture on Poetry” by Tadeusz Peiper [with Fernand Léger’s drawings] (1925),
„Sixth! Sixth!” by Tadeusz Peiper (1926 with author’s dedication),
„Living Lines. Poetry” [with drawings by Juan Gris] (1924);
Julian Przyboś poetry with designs by Władysław Strzemiński: „Screws” (1925), „With Both Hands” (1926), „From Above” (1930), „In the Depth of a Forest” (1932),
„A Cloud in Trousers” by Vladimir Mayakovsky [translated into Polish by Julian Tuwim with drawings by Jan Tschichold] (1923)
a collection of futuristic works by, i. a., Filippo Tomaso Marinetti „I novi poeti futuristi…” (1925), „L’Aeroplano del Papa. Romanzo profetico in versi liberi”, (1914), „Come si seducono le donne e si tradiscono gli uomi” (po 1920), „Futurismo e fascismo” (1924), „Spagna veloce e toro futurista. Poema paralibero seguito dalla tearia delle parole in libertá” (1931) or Umberto Boccioni „Pittura, scultura futuriste” (1914).
The 1960s and subsequent decades are represented in special documentation by publications of the following artists: Tadeusz Kantor, Józef Robakowski, Andrzej Partum, Anastazy B. Wiśniewski, Antoni Mikołajczyk, Zbigniew Dłubak and collections documenting activities of artist groups, such as Łódź Kaliska, Galeria Wymiany [Exchange Gallery], Galeria Wschodnia [East Gallery], Galeria Czyszczenie Dywanów [Carpet Cleaning Gallery], Warsztat Formy Filmowej [Film Form Studio], „Construction in Process”, and others.
The Documentation Department holds also an equally interesting collection of digital and analogue photography, which is systematically digitalised, like, e.g., documentation of exhibitions organised between 1930 and 2008, including over a dozen thousand photographs and a complete set of photographs of objects from the museum collection, which is systematically expanded and made available for publication purposes. Documentary photography of exhibitions and events held at the museum is supplemented with selected documentation of exhibitions depicting artistic life in Łódź.
Since 2011, the MS Library has been co-operating with the Union Catalog of Polish Research Library Collections – NUKAT.
The Neoplastic Room serves not only as a memorable background for paintings, but it is a work of art itself. It was designed in 1948 by Władysław Strzemiński on order of Marian Minich, the then director of Muzeum Sztuki. Originally, it was a presentation room for part of a.r. group’s collection of paintings by artists associated with the Dutch group De Stijl and Neoplasticism (van Doesburg, Vantongerloo, Gorin, Taeuber-Arp, Hélion, Huszar, Stażewski), and sculptures- spatial compositions by Katarzyna Kobro and works by Władysław Strzemiński. The room was destroyed in 1950. The authorities saw it as a form of art that did not meet the requirements of the communist doctrine and was therefore seen as totally unnecessary, not to say, harmful. In 1960, the Neoplastic Room was reconstructed by Władysław Strzemiński’s student Bolesław Utkin, and since that time, it has probably been the most recognisable artistic space on the map of Poland. The arrangement of works exhibited and the character of the room, previously called the Berlin Room, would change from time to time, but eventually since 2010, the Neoplastic Room has been a unique space where a dialogue between artists and exhibition curators regularly takes place.
The exhibition in the Reading Room of the Muzeum Sztuki library was created based on the collection of the Scientific Documentation Department. The following are objects on display that were shown for the first time: the only photograph of the original Neoplastic Room from 1948, original list of guests from June 13, 1948, who participated in the opening of the new seat of the Muzeum Sztuki at Więckowskiego 36, and of the Neoplastic Room, model of the Neoplastic Room made by Bolesław Utkin from around 1960, documents related to its reconstruction and renovation from 1959- 1969, plans of the Neoplastic Room by Stanisław Cuchra-Cukrowski from 1981 used in its reconstruction at the Presences Polonaises exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1983, photographs from various exhibitions, throughout various decades, that the Neoplastic Room has hosted.