Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Blackfriars Institute for Religion and the Arts

In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art. - Saint John Paul II

Blackfriars Gallery at DSPT

Founded in 1970, the Blackfriars Institute for Religion and the Arts (BIRA) contains a significant collection of religious art, music albums, and color slides, along with a library of more than 12,000 volumes dedicated to the study of art and religion. Among its holdings is one of the largest collections worldwide of biblical movie posters.

Mission and History

As a ministry of the Western Dominican Province and an affiliate of DSPT, BIRA promotes the fine arts – particularly sacred arts – as tools for the new evangelization.  Read more about its mission and history.

Public Access

Students and professors of DSPT and GTU will find the library collection useful for classes and research projects related to religion and the arts. Located just south of the UC Berkeley campus, the library is open on a regular basis on Mondays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the academic semester. Other arrangements can be made. Those interested in visiting the library must contact Chris Renz, OP.

Browse the Catalog

In Spring 2015, DSPT began cataloging the BIRA library holdings and we are making steady progress. As of Fall 2017, nearly 500 volumes have been catalogued, focusing in the areas of the Dominican Order, the Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic and St. Dominic's Press, and aesthetics. When you browse the catalog, please complete and submit the “request to borrow” form to get access to the items you are interested in. All materials must be viewed onsite at the Institute.

As an affilitate educational entity, the BIRA is open to faculty and students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to any member of DSPT. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its access and use policies.

The BIRA is listed as a Catholic Cultural Center (under the title “Santa Fe Institute”) through the Pontifical Council for Culture. Its legal title is “Santa Fe Institue,” and is listed under that title as an official ministry of the Western Dominican Province, with asterisked inclusion in the Official Catholic Directory. As a 501(c)(3), non-profit religious organization incorporated in the State of California, the “Santa Fe Institute” is able to receive tax-deductible donations to support our mission. the Federal EIN numbers is 94-3299183.