Who has access to the Film Study Center?
Anyone conducting research on films and filmmakers is welcome to make an appointment. While you do not need to be affiliated with a university or professional organization, you do need to have a valid research project. Writing a book, article, dissertation, paper, or screenplay; studying for a role; and directing or producing a film are all valid projects. If you are not sure if your idea qualifies, please submit a request form and ask. High school students should include contact information for your teacher or supervisor so that we may verify your request.
When is the Film Study Center open?
Appointments are available Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., with all film screenings ending by 5:30 p.m. All appointments need to be made at least three weeks in advance. The Film Study Center is closed for the month of August and the last two weeks of December.
Do I have to make an appointment three weeks in advance? How strict is this rule?
Yes, and this rule is strictly enforced. All of our films and most of our paper materials are stored off-site and must be shipped in specifically for your appointment. A three-week lead allows time to condition and properly pack materials, ensuring the safety of the film and videotape stocks, and helps balance the workload and shipping schedules of our extremely busy preservation staff. As a result, requests for materials received less than three weeks in advance cannot be accommodated.
How do I make an appointment?
Submit a request form. Please be as specific as possible in your requests and provide titles, names of personalities, and/or Special Collections box and file numbers when available. Please also limit your inquiries to films that are not readily available on home video or cable.
How much does it cost to visit the Film Study Center?
Film screenings and research appointments are provided free of charge.
Where is the Film Study Center? Where will my appointment take place?
The Celeste Bartos International Film Study Center is located in MoMA’s Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building at 4 West 54 Street, part of the Museum complex in midtown Manhattan. Most film and video viewings are held in a small theater with a projectionist, just like a commercial movie screening. If you want to see a film more than once, please indicate so on your request form. The projectionist cannot stop or rewind a film as it is being projected; if you need to be able to start and stop the film for close study of particular scenes, please inquire. All appointments for paper materials are held in our reading room, overlooking The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden.
What films are in the collection?
The Department of Film has 30,000+ titles and 60,000+ objects in the collection. Please submit a request form and provide a list of films (with years, if the film’s title has been used several times) and/or filmmakers, and the FSC staff will let you know what is available for screening. A small sample of highlights from the film collection is featured on the MoMA website. The FIAF Treasures Database is also a good resource.
I see that MoMA screened a particular film in an exhibition last year. Can I watch it at the FSC?
Maybe, depending on the title. Only films and videos that are part of MoMA’s collection are available for viewing through the Film Study Center. Many films are screened here on loan from outside sources and are returned when the exhibition ends, much the same way the Department of Painting and Sculpture will temporarily borrow a painting from another museum. To find out if a particular film is available, please inquire.
I know a film is in the Museum’s collection. Can the Film Study Center tell me details about the elements you hold, when and how they were acquired, and the film’s preservation history?
Sometimes, depending on donor/copyright restrictions and staff availability. If it is a film that we have preserved or of which we have many copies, this information may take extensive research on our part to provide. Please allow more than 10 business days for a response.
Does the Film Study Center have paper materials?
Yes. In addition to the films themselves, we hold significant primary sources on film-related personalities and topics, as well as screenplays and dialogue continuities, reference books, sheet music, and periodicals. A partial list of Special Collections can be found here. We also have extensive general files of reviews, articles, and program notes. The clippings are arranged by title, personality, and subject.
Is the Film Stills Archive still closed?
The Film Stills Archive is open. To access stills, please provide the title (plus foreign titles, if applicable), director, year, and country for all films; and first and last name for all personalities.
You may also contact the following organizations:
32 East 31 Street, fifth floor
New York, NY 10016
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
40 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY 10023-7498
Academy Film Archive
Center for Motion Picture Study
Margaret Herrick Library
333 South La Cienega Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Special collections: (310) 247-3000
The British Film Institute
Stills, Posters and Designs
21 Stephen Street
London W1T 1LN
020 7957 4797
Fax: 020 7323 9260
George Eastman House
Motion Picture Department
Stills, Posters and Paper Collections
900 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607
(585) 271-3361, ext. 279
Fax: (585) 256-3397
I am not sure what my research topic is yet. Can you help me?
Due to limited staff and resources we cannot conduct primary research for you or suggest related content. Please be as specific as possible in your requests and provide titles, names of personalities, and/or Special Collections box and file numbers when available. There is no way for us to search the film database for most genres or keywords, and searching by country, year, or synopsis is extremely limited. You may want to visit the MoMA Library first, as they have an extensive collection of film books and other tools.
Can I search the film database myself?
No. The film database is only accessible to Department of Film staff. Please submit a request form and provide a list of titles and/or filmmakers and the Film Study Center will let you know if any films are available for viewing.
I do not live in the New York metro area. Can you send me a DVD or other copy of a film in your collection?
No, the FSC does not have the facilities to create reference DVDs or digital files. Additionally, we cannot legally sell or otherwise release works to which we do not own the copyright, even for educational purposes. You must make an appointment to visit the FSC to view moving image works from the film collection. The Circulating Film and Video Library does rent some titles, primarily on 16mm; please see below and contact Circ for more information.
I do not live in the New York metro area. Can I order photocopies of materials, or can the staff of the Film Study Center conduct research on my behalf?
Due to the extremely high volume of requests our small staff receives, we cannot offer the service of consulting material or making photocopies on behalf of researchers. If you cannot visit, you are welcome to send a proxy in your stead. Please also see the MoMA Archives site for further information on hiring a local research assistant.
I have old film or video formats that I cannot screen at home. Can I bring them to the FSC to view?
No. The function of the Film Study Center is to provide access to the Museum’s moving image collection. The FSC cannot rent its screening rooms or equipment for personal use. If you would like to use one of MoMA’s large theaters or event spaces for a benefit, group, or corporate function, please see the Entertaining page.
Do you have any films available for rental?
Yes. Please contact the Circulating Film and Video Library.
Are any of your films streaming?
We recently began an ongoing series that makes film and video works from MoMA’s collection available online.
I am a professor at a university. May I bring my class to the FSC?
Yes, we love classes! Please indicate the size of your class when requesting an appointment.
Can I make copies of paper materials?
Researchers are permitted to make 50 photocopies of original material and clippings per day. There are no fees for copies. Researchers may also use small, handheld cameras or smartphones to photograph materials, provided such photographs are used for study purposes only , and as allowed at the discretion of FSC staff. Some Special Collections materials may be restricted due to condition or per donor requirements. FSC staff will provide you with a form on which you will be required to keep a list of the materials that you copy or photograph.
Will the Film Study Center scan paper materials or stills for me?
Yes, up to 20 items. Please provide a thumb drive or blank CD at the time of your appointment, as well as any image resolution or format requirements. Allow two weeks for scans.
How do I cite material consulted in the Film Study Center, and do I need permission to publish it?
Researchers must obtain advance permission from the FSC to publish Museum records in our holdings (e.g. Iris Barry papers). Please contact us in writing for a permission to publish form and sample citations. Researchers are responsible for clearing any rights issues with outside copyright holders and/or filmmakers’ estates.
Can I record a film with a video camera or my smartphone? What about shooting reference pictures of the screen?
Video cameras and other recording devices are prohibited. You may shoot low-resolution stills for reference purposes only; however, be aware that the projectionist cannot stop or rewind the film as it is being projected. If you want to publish screen shots you must obtain the written permission of any and all copyright holders as well as the Film Study Center.
I am making a film. Does the Department of Film license footage from the film collection?
As our database is not designed to accommodate stock footage requests, we strongly suggest you exhaust all other avenues before asking us for footage. If the footage you need exists only at MoMA, FSC staff will direct your message to our film collections manager and loan curator for review. Understand that the majority of our film holdings exist on film only. The digitization process can take months to complete, depending on the condition of the materials and lab availability, which usually does not suit a production timeline. In most cases MoMA is not the copyright holder and you will need to provide proof that you have cleared all rights issues with the copyright owners before we can make materials available to you.