In 2022, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) published Museum Archives: Practice, Issues, Advocacy (ed. Rachel Chatalbash, Susan Hernandez, and Megan Schwenke). This publication built on Museum Archives: An Introduction (William A. Deiss, 1984), which was significantly revised and expanded in a second edition by Deborah Wythe in 2004. It drew contributions from twenty-seven museum archivists to provide guidance and share best practices in advocating for the central role and value of the archives within the museum.
Collectively, these three SAA publications trace the growth and formalization of the museum archives field as a specialist subset of the archival profession while shedding light on the developments and challenges central to the field at the time of publication. Speaking to their contemporary moments, the books reflect the significant rise in the number of museum archives being established, the adoption of archival standards by museum archives, and the shift from paper-based to born-digital records in museums. In addition, the 2022 publication focuses significantly on advocacy work—both for museum archives staff and for museum archives collections—in developing a reciprocal relationship between museum object and archives holdings to position the archives as an indispensable hub of knowledge that complements other institutional collections.
Prompted by the new SAA publication, the Yale Center for British Art and SAA’s Museum Archives Section are hosting a one-day symposium to examine the current position and future directions of the museum archives field. The symposium will be held in person at the Yale University Art Gallery and livestreamed online. We welcome proposals from new and established museum archivists, and their professional allies, that examine any aspect of the museum archives profession. Themes for consideration include, but are not limited to:
- The emergence of museum archives as a distinct profession in the second half of the twentieth century
- The development and implementation of museum records management programs
- The impact of museum archives standards, best practices, and publications on current museum archives practice
- Strategies for advocating for museum archives within the museum environment and establishing relationships with colleagues
- Integrating museum archives into exhibitions, marketing, programs, and other museum activities
- Establishing the infrastructure for and stewarding of born-digital material in the museum environment
- Creating a museum archives program and establishing procedures for accessioning, description, and access
- Museum archives–based responses to contemporary issues in the sector, such as repatriation and reparative descriptive work.
The symposium will be held on Friday, May 10, 2024.
The YCBA will provide travel and accommodations for successful applicants. For more information, please email email@example.com.