The Future of the Library

3D rendering of the new Museum Library in the Higgins Education Wing

The Worcester Art Museum will be relocating the Library to the Higgins Education Wing. The FAQs below were created to inform our various constituents about the project, what to expect, and how it will impact their work. Updates about the Library project will be posted on this page.

Press Release


  • Why is the Museum relocating the Library?
    We are relocating the Library to a new, custom-built space in the Higgins Education Wing in order to improve how the Library serves its visitors, whether they are Museum staff and docents, faculty from regional universities, or students and independent researchers. The new space will better accommodate visitors, improve both storage and access to Library collections, and make it possible to host a wider array of programs. By moving the Library to the Higgins Education Wing, we may also be able to provide more flexible open hours, independent of the Museum’s galleries.
  • Where will the new Library be located and what will it look like?
    The Library will move to a two-level space located at the end of the Higgins Education Wing. The main level will feature a versatile reading room space that can be easily converted to host small programs, a selection of the most frequently requested books and periodicals from our collection, and offices for Library staff. The lower level will house the majority of the Library collection, in newly installed, archive-appropriate compact shelving.
  • When will the Library be closed?
    The Library is scheduled to close on June 1, 2022, as we begin to build out the new location and migrate the book collection. We expect the Library will reopen in the Higgins Education Wing in early 2023.
  • Who will be impacted throughout the closure?
    • Museum staff (including docents and studio art faculty) will be able to access the Library collection until September 1, 2022. Additionally, staff will be able to borrow books through inter-library loans and will see no disruptions in access to electronic resources. Staff will also be encouraged to visit and borrow books from any Worcester ARC library.
    • Non-WAM staff will be able to access the Library collection until May 31, 2022. After that, the Library will be closed to outside researchers until it reopens in early 2023.
  • How will services change in the new Library?
    • Free access for all is part of what makes our Library special. This will continue, as will all other currently existing services and programs (such as Personal Research Sessions, Class visits, Library tours and orientations, Inter-library Loan, library borrowing privileges, Reading Group, and Story Times). In the future, this new location will provide us the opportunity to expand public open hours.
    • Access to computer stations and photocopy machines will be discontinued. We encourage users to bring their own electronic devices (such as laptops and/or tablets).
    • The reading room will be more flexible and adaptable to changing configurations on a day-to-day basis. Some collections will be available for browsing in the reading room, while other collections will be stored in closed stacks. Visitors and staff will rely more heavily on the Library’s catalogue to explore these collections, and we will provide multiple training and information sessions to support users. Library staff will also provide one-on-one orientation sessions for users upon their arrival and throughout their time using the Library.
  • What will happen to the existing Library space?
    Construction on a new arms and armor gallery is expected to begin once the Library move is completed. Visit the Higgins Armory Collection on our website for more information about arms and armor at WAM and updates about the newly designed gallery to house the collection. Follow the Higgins Armory Collection on Facebook and Instagram (@higginsarmory).