While artists have long been inspired by archive, manuscript and special collections there seems to be an increasing recognition of this fact by the library and archive communities. Some archives such as the London School of Economics have even hosted artists in residence and supported shows by artists using archival materials. With new books such The Artist’s Library and Bibliocraft showcasing library materials as sources of inspiration for artists, it seemed timely to start a new ARLIS SIG dedicated to the use of archival, manuscript and special collections by artists and art researchers.
There is also a world beyond the cabinet of curiosities and source of inspiration – the work being done by Ulrike Muller and Yuyachkani are great examples of artists challenging traditional notions of the historical record, archives, and archival principles. At the same time, by working with artists, a new audience can gain access to materials they might not otherwise seek out and objects usually relegated to the reading room can reach a much wider audience.
Those of us who work with these collections can also offer advice to others who may have questions about archival best practices and how to work with and fund artists using archives, manuscripts and special collections. Hopefully, artists working with these materials can also contribute their experiences as well.