Last month CRSA organized a half-day panel titled “Digitizing Artists’ and Scholars’ Archives: New Initiatives in Preservation, Dissemination, and Art History Research,” hosted by The Archives of American Art New York Research Center. More than fifty attendees gathered on December 13 to learn how digital technologies are transforming the use image and documents archives. The three and one-half hour program included brief talks by nine panelists, audience Q & A, and a behind-the-scenes tour of the AAA’s New York Research Center, led by Archives Specialist Joy Goodwin.
CRSA is pleased to offer the following summary of the program, with links to additional information and resources:
Kate Haw, Director, Archives of American Art, spoke about the Archives’ November 2013 symposium, held in Washington, DC, on “American Art History and Digital Scholarship.” The day-long program featured papers by art historians whose research used digital tools to analyze and present archival data in ways that yielded fresh historical insights and revised some long-held beliefs.
She also called attention to the deeply researched Kress Foundation-sponsored report, “Transitioning to Digital World: Art History, Its Research Centers, and Digital Scholarship,” which examined both the potential for digital technologies to change research and pedagical methodologies and the deep ambivalence with which many art historians and institutions regard that prospect. Among the report’s admonitory conclusions: “the current marginal status of digital art history,” especially as compared to the embrace of digital tools by other fields in the humanities, threatens to retard the growth and vitality of art history as an intellectual discipline.
Katy Rogers, Program Director, Dedalus Foundation, and Manager, Donald Judd Foundation Catalogue Raisonné Project, discussed some of the practical and philosophical goals that encouraged each foundation to place more of its text and audio archives online and the responses these materials have generated from scholars and the general public.
Walter Schlect and Janet Burka, web-archiving interns, Frick Art Reference Library, and Emily Atwater, M-LEAD-TWO Project/Intern Coordinator, Brooklyn Museum Library, discussed several of New York Art Resources Consortium’s efforts to preserve and archive art-related websites (born-digital art forms, auction sales catalogues, gallery, museum and artist’s websites, blogs, etc.). Many dynamic sites are rarely preserved as distinct date-stamped iterations, raising the specter that much of the existing and future information about art will be written over, disappear entirely, or end up as dead-end hyperlinks.
Shaina Larrivee, Project Manager, The Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné and Heidi B. Coleman, Archivist, The Noguchi Museum, presented an overview of some of the resources of the Noguchi online CR, and discussed how their ongoing work to enrich and add to the CR’s capabilities reinforces the Museum’s outreach to multiple audiences.
Last, but not least (because nearly every project requires money as well as a good idea) Susan Shiroma, Senior Librarian, The Foundation Center, gave a detailed introduction to fundraising strategies and information available to CRSA members, whether they work as independent scholars or under the auspices of institutions. She demonstrated tools to identify which individuals and organizations fund what kinds of projects (as well as where, when and why they fund them); how to find a fiscal sponsor; how to use the Foundation Center’s online databases and tutorials; and how to obtain customized and assistance by visiting one of the Foundation Center’s national network of field offices and resource partners.