Nonprofit commits to expanding the historical record and diversifying the field of artists’ archives
Founded in 2018, Hauser and Wirth Institute (HWI) is a nonproﬁt, private foundation dedicated to transforming the ﬁeld of artists’ archives by nurturing equity and innovation and increasing access to archives. The Institute has announced a gift of $360,000 to The Studio Museum in Harlem to process and digitize institutional archives over the course of three years, in addition to $280,000 for the full tuition of two graduate students entering Pratt Institute’s dual-degree master’s program in library and information science and history of art and design. These gifts build upon HWI’s 2021 grants of $60,000 allocated to Sixty Inches From Center, Asia Art Archive and YVR Art Foundation to support innovative archival projects that empower communities of artists, archivists and researchers to preserve and promote their own cultural histories.
‘This funding aims to make artists’ archives more widely accessible and relevant to the public. We are honored to extend support to such a broad range of communities.’—Iwan Wirth, Board chair
Over the course of 2021, Executive Director Lisa Darms and HWI’s Board of Directors spent time reevaluating the nonproﬁt's mission, hosting roundtables with colleagues and innovators working with artists’ and community-based archives to discuss the future of artists’ archives. This process initiated a renewed commitment to advancing equity and innovation in the ﬁeld of artists’ archives.
‘The pandemic created many challenges, but it also made space for us to step back and assess where the gaps in funding and support are, and how we could best serve those working with artists’ archives,’ states Darms. ‘We felt it was vitally important to listen to the communities that create, use and care for archives to learn where our support could make the most impact. It was out of this reﬂection and dialogue that we chose to fund The Studio Museum, student archivists, and progressive nonproﬁts and collectives that expand access to archives for communities that have been underfunded and underrepresented.’
‘While the Institute has always prioritized accessibility, the time we took to reﬂect and explore allowed us to recognize the broader impact we could make supporting archive nonproﬁts and collectives,’ states HWI Board Chair Iwan Wirth.
The Studio Museum in Harlem
‘We are deeply grateful for the far-sighted commitment of Hauser & Wirth Institute toward making archives accessible,’ states Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum. ‘In the half-century since the Studio Museum’s founding, our staﬀ has meticulously preserved materials that reveal decades worth of vibrant interactions and scholarly undertakings among the institution, engaged artists and our Harlem community. The generous funding from Hauser & Wirth Institute will enable us to continue this archival work for generations to come, while furthering our commitment toward making this invaluable information an active, ongoing resource for all.’
The Studio Museum’s Archives contain over ﬁfty years of records of exhibitions, events, Artist-in-Residence programmatic materials and other historic images and documentation. A preliminary assessment of the archives and high-level organization was accomplished through a recent grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. HWI’s $360,000 grant will support the employment of archivists and fellows in organizing and digitizing these materials over the course of three years. As records are processed and digitized, they will support education, research and curatorial practices.
‘The Studio Museum has a legendary history, and it is a privilege to support the work of making their rich archive accessible to the ﬁeld and the public,’ states HWI Board Member Paula Marincola, executive director of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. ‘The extraordinary lineage of artists, curators and communities that has contributed to and emerged from the museum’s long commitment to Black culture has produced essential artistic, cultural and social contributions. Stewarding this archive means sharing signiﬁcant resources that will inform the present and inspire the future.’
‘We hope to bring awareness to the often invisible work of archivists in preserving artistic legacies,’ states Iwan Wirth, HWI’s board chair. ‘Processing archives and making them accessible can take years—it’s a massive job and requires signiﬁcant support. Funding to make artists’ archives widely accessible isn’t a common philanthropic gesture in our ﬁeld, but we think it is an important step toward building equity in the arts.’
Pratt Institute Scholarships
Hauser & Wirth Institute also introduces $280,000 in scholarships to fund full tuition for two graduate students entering Pratt Institute’s three-year, dual-degree program in Library and Information Science and the History of Art and Design. These scholarships will support diverse and underrepresented talent within these schools and their professional ﬁelds, where diverse talent is often underrepresented. ‘The program at Pratt Institute is unique in oﬀering this dual degree, which enables students to gain experience from the perspective of those who use archives as well as those who care for them,’ states Darms. ‘We are thrilled to help diversify the ﬁeld by supporting archivists who are Black, Indigenous and people of color at the beginning of their careers.’ The scholarships will be awarded to students entering the program in the 2022-2023 academic year.
Hauser & Wirth Institute’s $60,000 in additional grants for organizations support BIPOC artists and researchers in endeavors that expand the very concept of what archival ‘research’ can be. Darms states, ‘In a period of increased challenges to in-person research, HWI’s grants help organizations continue to serve, support, expand, and collaborate with their communities.’
Sixty Inches From Center (Sixty)
$25,000 has been awarded to Sixty, a Chicago-based archiving initiative and online arts publication focused on art and writing that thrives primarily outside of mainstream historical narratives. Their program, Chicago Archives + Artists Project (CA+AP), supports a residency for a small cohort of artists to conduct deep research and engage with single archives over the course of a year. HWI’s award of $25,000 will fund the collaborative residency program as well as a printed book, ‘Archives + Artists: Case Studies in Collaboration,’ to be published Fall 2022.
The book ‘Archives + Artists: Case Studies in Collaboration’ will highlight the evolving context of CA+AP-supported projects. These include past collaborations between Leather Archives & Museum and artist Aay Preston-Myint in presenting Dirt/Work, an exhibition illustrating the archival process of leather culture; a collaboration between the Costume and Textiles Collection at the Chicago History Museum and Rebirth Garments founder Sky Cubacub, whose work in garment design centers queer and disabled people; and many more.
‘As more cultural organizations seek to prioritize working with BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists, this book will provide a compendium that can be circulated within the cultural and archival sectors to share models for continuing this type of work with others,’ states Sixty’s co-founder Tempestt Hazel.
Asia Art Archive (AAA)
$25,000 has been awarded to AAA, which has one of the most valuable and growing collections of material on the recent history of art from Asia. Their archives are freely available online and through their onsite library in Hong Kong.
AAA will use their award to organize and digitize the archive of Zahoor ul Akhlaq, one of Pakistan’s best-known and most inﬂuential artists. Born in Delhi, India, Akhlaq moved to Karachi as a child and attended the National College of Arts in Lahore where he studied with foundational modernist Shakir Ali and later became a teacher himself. He is perhaps most famous for work that explored pictorial space and ﬂatness in paintings and prints that refuse tidy categorizations, combining abstraction and artistic modernism with the traditions of calligraphy and miniature painting. The grant will also fund a research fellow to study Akhlaq’s work as the archive evolves.
YVR Art Foundation (YVRAF)
$10,000 has been awarded to YVRAF, an independent, nonproﬁt organization dedicated to the development and advancement of British Columbia and Yukon Indigenous visual art and artists. This award will fund two travel grants in their Bill McLennan Masterpiece Study Program, which supports BC and Yukon First Nations artists in studying collections of Indigenous art and artifacts from their own cultures that are held by museums. HWI’s contribution introduces a new grant category to the Bill McLennan Masterpiece Study Program, the ‘community researcher,’ which can include research by non-artists to study institutional archives as well as art and artifacts
Expanded Archives Network (EAN)
The Expanded Archives Network, a new collaboration between Hauser & Wirth Institute and UK-based Art360 Foundation, is a cross-cultural network for resource-sharing and innovation in the expanded ﬁeld of artists’ archives. The EAN will connect freelance and institution-based archivists, curators, and other memory workers internationally through a shared interest in artistic legacies and futures. Through knowledge exchange and its program of public panels and workshops, EAN will prioritize historically under-documented communities and increase equity in the ﬁeld. This March, the EAN hosts its ﬁrst online workshop, ‘Approaches to Anti-Oppressive Archival Description.’
The EAN builds upon a professional network formed by Art360 in 2019 to create opportunities for independent art workers supporting the preservation and visibility of artists’ archives.
‘So many signiﬁcant undertakings towards preserving cultural heritage in non-institutional spaces remain non-visible despite the urgency and value of this work,’ states Ellie Porter, Head of Programme at Art360 Foundation. ‘In our collaboration with Hauser & Wirth Institute we recognize an important opportunity to highlight innovation across the expanded ﬁeld of archiving and to open cross-cultural dialogue that investigates and rethinks how artists’ legacies can be described, shaped and presented for future generations.’
Hauser and Wirth Institute (HWI) is a nonproﬁt, private foundation dedicated to transforming the ﬁeld of artists’ archives by nurturing equity and innovation and increasing access to archives. Operating independently of commercial interests, HWI provides grants for progressive archival projects and education, fosters networks locally and internationally and organizes public programming and workshops that enliven and expand conversations around artistic legacies.