Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library exists to advance scholarship in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies. The library’s collection in support of Pre-Columbian studies originated with Robert Woods Bliss's personal library of books on ancient American art. It now includes comprehensive coverage of the art history, anthropology, and archaeology of Pre-Columbian and early colonial cultures of Mexico, Central America, and South America.
Dumbarton Oaks is a Harvard University research institute, library, museum, and garden located in Washington, DC. The institution is the legacy of Robert and Mildred Bliss, collectors of art and patrons of learning in the humanities. The museum houses world-class collections of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art, two areas of interest to the Blisses. A third revolves around the historic garden, which Mildred Bliss created in close collaboration with renowned landscape designer Beatrix Farrand. Since 1940, when the Blisses gifted the estate and collections to Harvard University, Dumbarton Oaks has supported research in Byzantine Studies. Later it embraced Pre-Columbian and Garden and Landscape Studies. The support takes the form of fellowships and other awards, scholarly conferences, publications, and digital initiatives. In recent years, Dumbarton Oaks has also developed educational programs focusing on its collections and garden.
The founders called upon future policy-makers “to remember that Dumbarton Oaks is conceived in a new pattern, where quality and not number shall determine the choice of its scholars; that it is the home of the Humanities, not a mere aggregation of books and objects of art; that the house itself and the gardens have their educational importance and that all are of humanistic value.” These ambitions continue to guide Dumbarton Oaks, but with close attention to ensuring that the Blisses’ “new pattern” retains its vitality through constant renewal.