Uncovering Audio Visual Media Documenting Post-modern Art at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution


This project will support the archival processing and EAD (Encoded Archival Description) description of thirteen media-rich manuscript collections totaling 150 linear feet. Collections contain traditional paper records and 1091 media objects, including material in seven video formats, three audio formats, and two film formats. These collections include the papers of American artists, art critics, and scholars; the records of gallery exhibitions; and collections of documentary film and radio productions. They represent a fair sampling for developing guidelines and benchmarks to support an archival processing approach for media-rich archival collections. A complete list of the individual collections may be found in the attached Project Plan. The audio visual media in these collections are unique one-of-a-kind documentation of a period in contemporary American art when ephemeral and dynamic new visual art forms were emerging in studios, art communities, galleries, and art spaces across the country. The collections preserve media-based elements of the artwork itself, such as sound art, video art, or multi-media art forms. They also preserve media-based archival documentation of ephemeral art forms such as installation, environmental, conceptualism, performance, minimalism, or technology-based arts such as video art, kinetic sculpture, or light sculpture.


Cataloging Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded

Year Added



Archives of American Art


  • Barbara Aikens

Collection Size

150 linear feet, 1091 objects

Date Range

1960 - 1989

Geographic Scope

The collections document artistic movements that began in New York and Southern California, but transcend regionalism or nationalism.