Collection Online Guide and FAQs

With our redesigned Collection Online, there are many ways you can enjoy our collection virtually. The CMA’s Collection Online has entries for more than 68,000 artworks, most with high-resolution images, and several including videos, in-depth descriptions, 3-D models, and more. This guide can help you start your search. See below for search tips and frequently asked questions. If you cannot find the answer to your question here, please email

A screenshot of CMA's collection search
The collection search page, which can be found at 

Collection Search

The search bar has an autocomplete feature that can help you find exactly what you’re looking for, whether you’re searching for an artist, an artwork, an accession number, or a key word. You can also use the “Limit by” feature to specify what field you want your search term to be in (i.e., title, artist’s name, description). 

the CMA autocomplete showing results for a search of 'dali'
Typing a word in the search field will bring up the autocomplete, as shown in this search for 'dali.' 

You can filter your results using some of the filter options available. You can see results in the collection highlights, open-access artworks, art with videos, art that’s currently on view, or objects in 3-D. You can also use one of the popular filters or filter by art in specific exhibitions. These buttons also act as pre-populated searches, allowing you to browse the collection and find something that interests you. 

The 'popular' filters on CMA's collection search

The popular filters are also visible in the "Explore themes" carousel.

the 'explore themes' carousel showing the 'popular' searches

Once you’ve made a search, you can organize your results in either list view or grid view (which is the default). You can also sort your results by relevance, accession date, title, or creation date. 

the 'sort by' options for CMA's collection online

You might also notice that some images are designated as a “Cover record.” This means that this object is part of a set. If you click on the “Cover record” banner, it will take you to a filtered search that will show you all the objects in that set. 

an example of a cover record object

If the capabilities of the standard collection search aren’t sufficient for your needs, you can use the advanced search. The advanced search has several specific fields that allow you to find exactly what you’re looking for.

the collection search with 'advanced search' highlighted

Artwork Detail Page

When you click on an artwork from the collection search, you are taken to its art detail page. 

A screenshot of an art detail page
An example of an art detail page, showing Portrait of Dora Wheeler

The art detail page is split into two halves. The left half is focused on the image of the artwork you selected and offers many different ways to view the image: zoom in, zoom out, and expand the image. If the artwork you selected has 3-D photogrammetry, you can view it in 3-D. For some artworks, you can also explore additional views or see conservation images that show the process of conserving the artwork. Artworks with conservation images are accompanied by a detailed conservation statement.

A conservation statement on an art detail page
The conservation statement and conservation images for Portrait of a Woman as Saint Catherine

While the left side of the art detail page is focused on the image, the right side of the page is focused on information and scholarship about the artwork. This section contains up to 36 fields of metadata that can include fields like artist biography, provenance, or citation. 

The metadata fields for a piece of artwork
The right side of the art detail page for Stag at Sharkey's

If you click on any of these underlined categories, you’re taken to a collection search page that filters for artworks within that category. For example, if you click on the "Location" link, you can see all objects that are in that gallery. 

This side clearly states if the artwork you’re looking at is open access. If it is, you have several different options to download the image or information in the way that best suits your needs. 

more content on the art detail page
The lower part of the art detail page for Stag at Sharkey's

If you scroll down further on the page, you find any videos associated with the artwork, the “See Also” section, and “Visually Similar Artworks.” The “See Also” section shows you some categories the artwork falls in (like the collection, the department, the type of artwork) and takes you to a filtered search where you can explore all the artworks in that category. 

visually similar artworks
Visually Similar Artworks for Stag at Sharkey's 

Finally, at the bottom of the page, you see content on the main site that is related to the artwork, like magazine articles, exhibitions, or videos. These will all take you back to the main part of the website. 


Frequently Asked Questions about Search and Advanced Search