As an archivist working with artist archives, one of my greatest sensitivities is ensuring that the logic of how an artist maintained his/her studio is recognized and preserved. Best practices must include maintaining that logic when preparing the materials for transfer to an archival repository, be it a museum, academic institution, or foundation study center. Preserving original order is a basic tenet in archival practice, but not always recognized when an estate is handling an artist’s studio after the artist passes away. Preserving the structure of how an artist used and accessed their resources provides valuable clues to the workflow of the maker.
With each archival collection I process, another voice enters my head, along with another piece of wisdom. Ideas from a long lost soul have landed in my hands, before landing in the hands of countless others. This is strange kinship seeps into my consciousness. A voice, a thought, an image from a distant time.
Are these errant pieces of mental marginalia I collect beginning to coalesce into one shared memory, hailing from all the collections on which I work. Could there be such a think as an archival murmuration? A flock of ideas morphing into a particular spectacular pattern? read more
The night before an impending blizzard landing in Manhattan felt like the perfect time to gather with friends deep in the bowels of New York City’s Municipal Archives. The goal was to test out a creative writing workshop I’ve been pondering over this past year, which focuses on using archival material as a resource for fiction writing and visual art making. Our host was Sylvia Kollar, Director of the Municipal Archives, who conjured up extraordinary records for us to ponder together as a group. In particular, we worked with selected Bertillion Cards pulled from a collection of early 20th century mug shots held within the city’s archives. read more
I thought I was just visiting colleague/archivist Deborah Wythe to discuss my on-going work on the Nancy Holt Archives, but then I stumbled into a familiar rabbit hole….
There is something indistinguishable about that very silent corner of the Brooklyn Museum, where with a single turn, one is set adrift into the darkened hallways surrounding the museum’s Decorative Arts/Period Rooms. It may take a year or two, but undoubtedly, no matter what show I come back to see, the siren’s song of those quarters lures me back into the surrounding passageways in that corner of the museum — and again, I am yanked away from time. read more
A CONVERSATION with the Brooklyn Museum’s Manager of Digital Collections & Services, Deb Wythe: The Analog and Digital Life of the Brooklyn Museum Archives
Deb Wythe is a friend and colleague whose friendship I have valued for many years. When I first took the leap into becoming an archivist in Prospect Park a long while ago, Deb was one of the first professionals in the field who provided guidance and enthusiasm right from the start. Brooklyn Museum is one the Park’s cultural neighbors, and I was so grateful to have found an archivist friend so close by. read more