Guidelines for documentation

provided by William L. Fox, Nevada museum of art

In anticipation of possibly acquiring materials from the Extraction Project for the Center for Art + Environment Archive Collections, you might find helpful some background and responses to frequently asked questions.

The Center for Art + Environment (CA+E) was established at the Nevada Museum of Art in January 2009. Its mission is “To be a global leader in supporting the practice, study, and awareness of creative interactions between people and their environments.” The CA+E Archive Collections comprise the foundational materials from which other activities of the Center are derived, such as exhibitions, publications, and public programs. The Archive Collections are an enduring ensemble of archival records, objects, and artworks that attract scholars internationally to the Museum to create scholarship. The strategy of the CA+E is to collect materials worldwide and to make them accessible to scholars and the public, both on a physical basis at the Museum and online.

Although the focus of the Archive Collections is primarily on site-specific works addressing creative interactions with various environments, some of its materials deal with the larger framework of global change and systems. As of late 2016 we have more than 125 separate archives in-house or under development, which together contain more than a million items upwards of 1000 artists working on all seven continents. We process anywhere from 10-20 archives annually, and you can see our finding aids here:

The Museum is accredited with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), which means that we follow national standards in the acquisition and care of the objects we collect, store, and offer for study. Materials are held in climate controlled and secure surroundings, and while access to the Archive Collections is not difficult, it is closely monitored in order to preserve the integrity of the materials. In line with AAM standards, our primary concern always revolves around both conservation and access.

While we reserve the right to reproduce any and all archival records and artworks for educational and promotional purposes, copyright remains with the author(s) of the materials, unless deemed otherwise by the copyright holder. For example, if we wish to reproduce artworks in a book, we are required to obtain the copyright holder’s permission. Likewise, if anyone requests reproduction of images in our possession, we first have to give our permission, and then we direct them to the appropriate copyright holder as well.

The types of materials that we collect, whether they are originals or copies, include but are not limited to:

• Printed ephemera (catalogs, posters, etc.);

• Correspondence, reviews, journals, diaries, maps, schedules, itineraries, research materials, and ephemera related to projects and exhibitions in both physical and digital formats;

• Analog and digital Images, recordings, and misc. documentation of your operations in other media;

• If you are representing an organization, founding documents of the nonprofit corporation;

• Artworks and reproductions of artworks related to archival records and projects collected by the Center for Art + Environment.

• Objects related to archival records and projects.

• The one thing of which we’re increasingly wary are data dumps--hard drives, for example, that are full of highly duplicative images, emails, and documents. That material can take months or longer to process if it’s not already culled and ordered. We’ll accept the material, of course, but we may not sort it if it’s too extensive.

Upon receipt of your materials, we will log them in and send you a Deed of Gift, then place them in the queue for processing. We post thumbnail images of pertinent objects, documents, and artworks as we are able, but we do not make available high-resolution scans online in order to preserve the integrity of copyright.

Storage and use of the materials is designed to ensure longevity of materials in their original form while simultaneously allowing access for study and exhibition. Materials are stored in secure and climate controlled archive collection spaces within the Museum. In general, correspondence is stored in archival file boxes, and large pieces in flat files or archival tubes. Artworks are stored as appropriate in boxes or on racks. Materials examined by visitors are registered before and after their use, and monitored by a staff person present in the room. As to the storage of digital materials, such as photographs on DVDs, we maintain them as data on the Museum server with multiple backups both on- and off-site.

Regarding fees charged for the reproduction of materials, the museum’s policy is to charge only minimal fees for actual reproduction. We do not seek to profit from the reproduction of scholarly materials. Archival records, objects, and artworks are, of course, available for loan to other peer institutions for exhibition, subject to all the usual restrictions regarding security, insurance, etc.

There is no way to answer all the questions now that may arise during the life of these materials and their usage, but we trust that this will help you understand our concern is that materials be retained securely and intact for the benefit of the artistic and scholarly communities, and on behalf of the public.


William L. Fox

Director, Center for Art + Environment

Sara L. Frantz

Archivist/Librarian, Center for Art + Environment