Internet Archive Launches Collaborative, Web-Based Art Resources Preservation and Access Initiative

Much of the art gallery, artist, and arts organization materials that were once published in print form are now available primarily or solely on the web. These groups, like many in the cultural sector, have also been hit especially hard by the global pandemic, making their web presences particularly at-risk of being lost if they are not proactively collected and preserved.The creation of reference and research resources that promote streamlined access and enable new types of scholarly use will ensure that the art historical record of the 21st century, and especially of our current global pandemic, is readily accessible far into the future.

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For this reason, the Internet Archive, along with the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC), are pleased to announce our project Consortial Action to Preserve Born-Digital, Web-Based Art History & Culture. The project recently received a two-year, $305,343 Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant from the Division of Preservation and Access at the National Endowment for the Humanities. This award will support the formation of a cooperative group of 30+ art and museum libraries from across the United States to collaborate on the preservation of, and access to vital arts content from the web. 

The Internet Archive has a long history of building and supporting collaborative communities and providing non-profit web, preservation, and access services to cultural heritage organizations. The multi-institutional initiative between Internet Archive, NYARC, and other arts and museum organizations will build on similar community-based archiving and professional cultivation projects in the Community Programs group, especially our Community Webs program, currently expanding nationally and internationally. Community Webs has received funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and IMLS to provide public libraries and cultural heritage organizations with services, training, and professional development opportunities to document their diverse local history. 

NYARC are pioneers in collaborative web archiving and shared services, among art and museum libraries. NYARC’s robust web archive collections encompass art resources, artists’ websites, auction catalogs, catalogues raisonnes, and hundreds of New York City gallery websites. The Internet Archive and NYARC have partnered on work to build born-digital collecting capacity among arts organizations in the past, most recently in the IMLS-funded Advancing Art Libraries and Curated Web Archives National forum and related events.  Through discussions, workshops and roadmapping sessions with leaders in art and museum libraries, a strategy and plan  towards an inclusive, sustainable, cooperative approach to collecting and stewarding born-digital, locally-focused art history collection was developed, forming the basis of this broader cooperative effort.

Members in the project’s preliminary group of art and museum libraries will select topics and specific web content that is relevant to their expertise, will provide metadata to facilitate access to archived content, and will participate in planning and evaluation meetings, all while curating a valuable reference resource that will enhance their traditional collecting areas. The Internet Archive will coordinate communications, facilitate governance and collective curatorial activities, provide technical digital library and archive services, and help enable members to build and maintain discovery and access platforms, as well as facilitate researcher use of the collections resulting from the group’s work.

If your art or museum library is interested in joining this collaborative effort, please fill out this participation form by July 31 to join us! 

We are also adding a permanent position to our Community Programs team to help support this work, please apply or pass on to friends and colleagues who might be interested.

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