Founded at the same time as the Museum itself in 1880 to be a specialised collection of printed works and a collection of ornaments, the MUO library is one of the oldest specialised collections of books related to art and the fine crafts in the whole of Europe. The idea of Izidor Kršnjavi, founder and first director of the Museum, was that along with providing basic lessons from art history it should provide suitable patterns from its collections to improve production in art and the fine crafts. This purpose was served by the collection of graphic patterns for all kinds of applied arts and ornaments characteristic of given periods of style. Along with basic works of art theory and history of the 18th and 19th centuries, this unique collection constitutes the initial holdings of the library formed by donations of leading members of the Art Association and systematic acquisition, by purchases and swaps. This historical collection of books is still kept in its original line-up, in an interior made according to designs by architect Herman Bollé.

Since 1880, the MUO library has developed and been transformed in accordance with the founding mission of the Museum and the understanding of its role in the framework of currently valid conceptions of museology. Today, a contemporary specialised library, integrating the demands of contemporary museology and librarianship with the contents of holdings that are correlated with the collections, it is above all used to give support to specialised and scholarly work by museum personnel. The holdings of 65,000 volumes contain books, journals and reference works from the history of art, the fine crafts and kindred areas, print portfolios and albums of patterns for various crafts, catalogues of exhibitions and auctions. A special unit consists of the collection of rare and old books of the 16th to the 19th century that also has the significance of being a museum collection in itself.

The library of the Museum exchanges publications with more than 150 similar institutions at home and abroad and has subscriptions for Croatian and foreign journals in the discipline. In line with contemporary needs, the most recent books are classified according to UDC and classified in the UNIX version of CROLIST, UNIMARC standard.

All material in the library is accessible to outside readers in the reading room from 9 to 12 and 1 to 3 p.m. every working day.

Head of Library Department:
Anđelka Galić