Symposium | Is This Permanence: Preservation of Born-digital Artists’ Archives

Event time: 
Friday, May 11, 2018 - 10:00am to 5:00pm

The internet pioneer Vint Cerf has said that “preservation by accident is not a plan.” Without a plan, will born-digital art last even one lifetime? If we do not develop solutions now, we risk losing not only born-digital art but artists’ archives as well—effectively erasing the work and memory of this generation and subsequent generations’ art history.

Today, an artist’s studio ephemera likely consists of old laptops, iPhones, professional websites, and social media accounts, as well as traditional analog materials. Artists’ archives are increasingly hybrid collections, requiring adaptable preservation methods. This symposium will explore the challenges of born-digital preservation and artists’ archives, including artists’ use of born-digital methods as part of their practice and as a means of documentation; the state of the digital preservation field for artists and those who steward their archives; and preservation strategies for artists, museums, collectors, archives, and libraries.

This program is free and onsite registration will be available on the day of the symposium. For more information, visit Symposium | Is This Permanence: Preservation of Born-digital Artists’ Archives or contact Cate Peebles, Postgraduate Research Associate at the Center’s Archives (, +1 475 202 2390).

This program will be live streamed.

This event is co-sponsored by the Yale Center for British Art, the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, Yale University Library Digital Preservation Services, the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA), and the National Digital Stewardship Residency for Art Information (NDSR Art).

Full Schedule:

Registration (Entrance Court), 10–10:20 am

Welcoming Remarks (Lecture Hall), 10:20–10:30 am
Cate Peebles, Postgraduate Research Associate, Yale Center for British Art (Archives)

Morning Presentations (Lecture Hall):

Introduction by Erin Barsan, NDSR Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, 10:30 am

Digital Artists’ Records in a Curatorial Context: Functional Analysis and Digital Preservation, 10:30–10:50 am
Farris Wahbeh, Whitney Museum of American Art

Panel Discussion with Three Case Studies: Curatorial, Digital Preservation, and Processing, 10:50–11:15 am
Hilary Price and Josh Franco, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Archiving Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace, 11:15–11:40 am
Sara England and Mikhel Proulx, Concordia University

Digital Contexts: How Communities Self-Archive Online, 11:40 am–noon
John Bell, Dartmouth College

Morning Q&A
Led by Sarah Welcome, Assistant Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Center, noon–12:15 pm

Lunch (On your own), 12:15–1:15 pm

Afternoon Presentations (Lecture Hall):

Introduction by Elise Tanner, NDSR Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1:15 pm

The Artist Archives Initiative: Researching and Developing New Models for Digital Art Information Preservation and Delivery, 1:15–1:40 pm
Deena Engel and Glenn Wharton, New York University

Toward Distributed Preservation: Bridging Artists’ and Institutions’ Preservation Practices, 1:40–2 pm
Colin Post, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Case Study: Robert Wilson’s Studio Archive from the 1960s to the Present, 2–2:25 pm
Clifford Allen and Deb Verhoff, Watermill Center, Robert Wilson Archives & New York University

Digital Research, Communication and Making Methods in UK Contemporary Visual Art Practice: The Artist View, 2:25–2:45 pm
Laura Molloy, University of Oxford 

Afternoon Q&A
Led by Sarah Welcome, Assistant Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Center, 2:45–3 pm  

Coffee Break (Entrance Court), 3–3:30 pm

Keynote Lecture

Your Archival Format Will Not Save You, 3:30–4:30 pm
Jon Ippolito, Professor and Program Coordinator of New Media, Co-director of the Still Water Lab, and Director of the Digital Curation Program, University of Maine

Keynote Q&A, 4:30–4:45 pm  
Led by Coral Salomón, NDSR Art, University of Pennsylvania

Closing Remarks, 4:45 pm
Rachel Chatalbash, Senior Archivist at the Center

This program will be live streamed.

Lecture Hall
Space is limited
Preregistration is required
(This venue is wheelchair accessible)
Free but register in advance
Open to: 
General Public