by Nancy Zastudil
Many artists and art collectors ask, “What is an archive?” “Why do I need it?” “How do I get started?” The answer is more straightforward than they, or you, might imagine: an archive is a record and to archive means to record.
An archive refers to the document(s), or record(s), related to artwork, whether you are an artist, a collector, a gallerist, or the manager of an estate. You can archive a collection of items you have created or ones you have acquired, perhaps through purchase, donation, or trade. The act of archiving includes placing or storing those records in a designated place—ideally, in an organized way.
Archives play an important role in arts and culture. You may be familiar with the Archives of American Art, at the Smithsonian Institution, dedicated to “collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary sources that document the history of the visual arts in America.” Individual artist’s archives have also had a big impact. For example, the Gordon Parks Foundation permanently preserves the work of photographer Gordon Parks and makes it available to the public. The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, established and endowed by the artist, hold an extensive selection of her work and works by other artists, and original papers and materials pertaining to her life and work—in other words, her archives.
Art collectors also participate in the important work of archiving. For example, the Menil Collection in Houston and, more recently, the Broad Collection in Los Angeles have been documented and organized—archived—so that the artworks and related information can be presented in engaging ways.
We at artAttendant believe in the importance of archiving. By helping you document your collection through images, provenance records, and more, we make it easy to preserve your legacy.
Getting started can often feel like the most difficult part, so we offer a variety of professional and affordable Archive Services to help steer you in the right direction. You can select as little or as much help as you’d like.
- Data Archivists can build your collection directly on the platform or create a spreadsheet from digital/paper records for data migration. Available everywhere
- Data Migration data is migrated from our spreadsheet template that you prepare and submit to us. Data migration is recommended for larger collections. Data Archivists can also help you prepare your spreadsheet for migration.
- Mobile Archivists will record your collection onsite. Mobile archivists are insured up to $100,000 and currently available from New York, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Washington DC and our home in New Mexico. Our mobile archivist network is continually expanding. We may be able to assist you with finding someone in your area to help you onsite. Please inquire to see if we can match you with someone in your area.
We also gift certificates for our services. Contact us for more information.