ARLIS/NA Affiliates session at the College Art Association conference in 2015

*Please excuse cross-postings*


Please mark your calendars and join us for the ARLIS/NA Affiliated Society Session at CAA on Thursday, February 12, 2015 5:30-7:00 pm:

CAA 103rd Annual Conference

Hilton New York – Petit Trianon, 3rd Floor

1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY

ARLIS/NA Affiliated Society Session – Thursday, February 12, 2015

5:30-7:00 pm

Documenting artists: creating, collecting, and preserving ephemeral material

Session Abstract

Librarians, archivists and scholars have long recognized that unique valuable artist information often only exists in ephemeral objects: early career postcards, flyers, press releases. Institutions have a legacy of collecting this information. The names of these collections are varied, often called artist archives or artist files, but the goal the same: to document artists’ legacy through collections of ephemera, publications, and press. As the use of these materials in scholarship rises and influence on curatorial practice is evident with the increased inclusion of archival material in exhibitions, how are institutions innovating to maximize access?


Tony White (Co-Moderator)

Director of Decker Library, Maryland Institute College of Art

Francine Snyder (Co-Moderator)

Director, Library & Archives, Guggenheim Museum

From Marginal to Mainstream: Art Ephemera as Research Material at RKD

Roman Koot

Head, Library & Archives, Netherlands Institute for Art History

The RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History – manages a collection of more than 2 million items of art and artist’s ephemera (invitations, leaflets, posters, etc.) and press material. The collection, which concentrates on modern and contemporary art, is the result of many years of collecting. It includes many precious items by and on (international) conceptual artists etc. The material is being used by scholars, curators and students as primary source material and serves as an important complement to the RKD extensive collections of reproductions, archives and books and catalogues.

In 2014/2015 a selection of art-historically important printed ephemera from the period 1800 to 1960 is being digitized (app. 12.000 items). After digitization these items will be made available through the RKD’s publicly accessible collection databases. By adding relevant metadata integrated searches will be possible via the search engine RKD Explore ( At the same time a pilot has been started to include digital born ephemera into the collection databases.

Artist Files Initiative at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City: Supporting Artists and Community Engagement

Marilyn Carbonell

Head, Library Services, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Spencer Art Reference Library of the Nelson-Atkins Museum is leading a partnership with Kansas City’s artists with community support through the Artist Files Initiative.  Engaging our community is a major focus of the Nelson’s strategic plan. Through this artist-curated documentation project, participants actively partner with the library to preserve the legacy of their active careers.  Area artists have responded very positively to the project, which provides online discovery to through OCLC WorldCat and the library catalog.  The library uses social media to highlight participating artists.  This museum library project is differentiated by its support from local artists’ organizations, galleries, business leaders, museum leaders and community arts organizations.  The rich trove of documentary information is available for art reference enquiries and for social, cultural and economic studies of artists’ contributions to their community.  The project can be replicated in any community by a public, academic or museum library.

Making the Fleeting Permanent: The “Winnipeg Effect” and Communities of Collaboration

Liv Valmestad

Art Librarian, University of Manitoba

This paper will highlight projects involving the archiving and collecting of artist materials that have been undertaken in Winnipeg, Canada, such as Prairie Prestige, UM Public Art Project, and the upcoming Winnipeg Effect. These endeavours represent a variety of collaborative efforts among universities, libraries, archives, and many cultural organizations. The Winnipeg Effect provides an excellent case study, and functions as an overarching umbrella, bringing together the four prongs/sectors of visual cultural in Winnipeg: art institutions and organizations; art dealers’ archives, institutional archives and archives of individual artists; educators; and members of the public. Materials will be assembled in collaboration with over 26 art institutions and organizations including artist-run centres, non-profit cultural organizations, and public art galleries and museums. Issues such as copyright, funding, collecting, storage, and accessibility will be discussed. By actively preserving what is happening today, for the art history of tomorrow, these projects benefit students, researchers, and the greater cultural community.

The Future of Artist Files: Here Today Gone Tomorrow

Samantha Deutch (co-presenter)

Assistant Director, Center for the History of Collecting, The Frick Collection, Frick Art Reference Library

Sally McKay (co-presenter)

Head of Special Collections Services, Research Library, Getty Research Institute

The information Art Librarians have saved and provided access to researchers which once was provided in paper form and kept as Artist Files is now only available digitally and while many people believe that art galleries and artists are preserving this information, they are not.

The Artist Files Special Interest Group of the Art Libraries Society of North America has been exploring ways to preserve and provide access to this information. Co-Moderators Sally McKay and Samantha Deutch will discuss, in addition to another collaborative project, a National Directory, formed by the group in 2007, which helps users locate these often elusive materials. The other collaborative initiative currently involves representatives from four separate Institutions using Archive-it to capture, store, and provide access to this information, now and in the future.