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Art in the Archives: A Survey of Artists’ Papers in Tennessee

Author: 
Celia Walker
Major Professor: 
William C. Robinson
Date: 
May 2005

Abstract: This study is the first known survey of visual art materials housed in Tennessee's repositories. Little has been written about the arts materials in the state's repositories and no overview exists for art scholars. The purpose of the study was to create a profile of collecting in Tennessee of visual art materials in relation to policies, funding levels, and collection accessibility. It was determined that almost one-half of responding repositories in Tennessee maintain some visual art primary resource in their vertical files. The presence of collection policies and missions that speak directly to the need to collect art resources was not seen to be a critical factor in the presence of art files.

Another goal of this report was to raise awareness of the value of arts materials to artists and arts repositories. A survey was conducted of the types of materials that artists in Tennessee collect as by-products of their art making. The results show the broad range of items that archivists and museum registrars should consider when accepting artists' materials. As importantly, the survey of artists' understanding of estate planning shows that few artists in the state consider estate planning for their primary arts materials, and the state's artists, who have little or no information about estate planning, is wide and needs to be addressed in further studies.