Digitizing the Museum’s History
Behind the Scenes /
Since 2007, the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art has been busy processing an extensive collection of our museum’s historical records. We are happy to announce that the entire collection is now fully processed, including the digitization of two complete series of records—giving the public access to nearly 147,000 images detailing the earliest days of the museum and its first exhibitions. The collection has also been reorganized to make it more research-friendly, and a complete finding aid is available via the Archives of American Art website.
These records (mostly dated 1885–1940) include extensive correspondence between the museum’s founding director, John Beatty, and his successor, Homer Saint-Gaudens, with artists, dealers, galleries, collectors, museum directors, representatives abroad, shipping and insurance agents, and museum trustees. The collection also includes Department of Fine Arts interoffice memoranda and reports; loan exhibition files; and Carnegie International planning, jury, shipping, and sale documentation. The monumental task of establishing the Carnegie Institute’s Museum of Art and the Carnegie International has left an archival record that is unique and unparalleled in documenting its relations with every aspect of the contemporary art world from the turn of the century through 1940.
Learn more about processing archivist Judy Ng’s work with these materials over the past four years on the Archives of American Art Blog.
Thanks to the Brown Foundation for funding the processing of this important collection. Thanks also to the Terra Foundation Center for Digital Collections for their support in digitizing these documents and helping to make them available to the public online.