Collaborative ART Archive (CARTA)

Thursday 16th December, 2021 - Bruce Sterling

*Lots of Americans.

Collaborative ART Archive (CARTA)

Art historians, critics, curators, humanities scholars and many others rely on the records of artists, galleries, museums, and arts organizations to conduct historical research and to understand and contextualize contemporary artistic practice. Currently, much of the art-related materials that were once published in print form are now available primarily or solely on the web and are thus ephemeral by nature. Without a sustained, coordinated approach to archiving this web-based art material, a significant portion of this content is at risk of disappearing.

The Internet Archive and the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC), with generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), have embarked on a collaborative project aimed at capturing and preserving at-risk web-based art materials. The project, formerly called the Consortial Action to Preserve Born-Digital Web-Based Art History & Culture and renamed as Collaborative ART Archive (CARTA), will facilitate the development of a national consortium of art libraries building collections of archived web-based content related to art history and contemporary art practice. Through this consortial approach, the project will leverage shared infrastructure, expertise and collecting activities amongst participating organizations, scaling the extent of web-published, born-digital materials preserved and accessible for art scholarship and research. The goals are to promote streamlined access to art reference and research resources, enable new types of scholarly use for art-related materials, and ensure that the art historical record of the 21st century is readily accessible far into the future.

Read more in the Internet Archive blog post: Internet Archive Launches Collaborative, Web-Based Art Resources Preservation and Access Initiative.

Find more information about the NEH grant: Consortial Action to Preserve Born-Digital, Web-Based Art History & Culture.

Project History

This project builds on previous efforts by the Internet Archive and NYARC to bring together art research institutions for collaborative strategic planning in response to the challenges associated with ensuring sustained access to web-based art research materials. In 2018, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded a grant to NYARC and the Internet Archive’s Archive-It staff to host a national forum event, along with associated workshops and stakeholder meetings. The purpose of these events was to catalyze collaboration among art libraries in the stewardship of historically valuable art-related materials published on the web. This national forum and affiliated meetings stemmed from work NYARC and Archive-It were already doing to expand web archiving amongst art and museum libraries and archives.

Project Timeline:

2010-onward: Organizations including the Frick Collection/NYARC, Internet Archive, and the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) collaborate to begin identifying, capturing, and preserving at risk web-based art materials using Archive-It. Several other art and museum libraries initiate web archiving programs and share their progress with the community via conferences and other channels. This momentum leads to the development of a Web Archiving SIG within ARLIS/NA and to broad discussions of potential collaborative approaches to this work.
May 2018: The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awards a grant to NYARC and the Internet Archive to host a national forum event, workshops and stakeholder meetings to bring together art libraries to discuss the stewardship of historically valuable art-related materials published on the web. See here for more information about this grant.
October – November 2018: The project team conducts a literature review and survey of the art and museum library community to prepare and program the above national forum events. These public reports summarize the state of art and museum library experiences with and aspirations for web archives: Advancing Art Libraries and Curated Web Archives: A Literature Review and Advancing Art Libraries and Curated Web Archives: A Community Survey
February 2019: The Internet Archive and NYARC hosted The Advancing Art Libraries and Curated Web Archives National Forum. This full-day symposium and half-day of community workshops are held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Through this event, the project team gathered information about goals, priorities, and barriers to entry to comprehensive preservation and access of web-based arts content that would inform the more targeted roadmapping sessions at the stakeholder meetings.
April 2019 – March 2020: The project team hosts key stakeholders meetings in New York (April, 2019) and Los Angeles (March 2020) in order to review the ideas and challenges raised at the national forum, outline a collaborative collecting program, and define roles in broadening the program to include art libraries around the country and the world.
April 2020: The Internet Archive and NYARC publish a report on the research, events, and evaluation that were conducted to convene a community of web archiving practice among art and museum libraries.
June 2021: NYARC and the Internet Archive are awarded a Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant from the Division of Preservation and Access at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). This award, worth $305,343, supports 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. See here for more information about this grant.

Thank you

The Internet Archive wishes to extend sincere thanks to NYARC, IMLS, NEH, and to all organizations who have engaged in web archiving projects related to arts research content, to all who have shared their input and ideas via the above events and community survey, and to our incoming partner organizations from across the US. The efforts and contributions of each of these individuals and organizations is vital to the continued preservation and accessibility of valuable art-based web materials.

Current Participating Institutions Include:
American Craft Council
American Folk Art Museum
ART | library deco
Art Gallery of Ontario
Art Institute of Chicago
Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Fashion Institute of Technology – SUNY
Getty Research Institute (Getty Library)
Harvard University – Fine Arts Library
Harvard University – Graduate School of Design
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA)
National Gallery of Art Library
National Gallery of Canada
New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MOMA)
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library
The Corning Museum of Glass
The Menil Collection
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Spencer Reference Library
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hamilton Library
Join us!
If you are part of a US-based arts organization and are interested in joining us on this project, please contact us here.