Donating Papers to the Archives of American Art

The Archives of American Art collects primary source materials–letters, writings, preliminary sketches, scrapbooks, photographs, financial records and the like–that have art historical significance.

We seek the personal papers of individuals and the records of organizations that include letters from, or references to, prominent figures in American cultural history; a significant body of unpublished manuscript material; and documentation on major American artists or major art trends.

If you own the papers of an American artist, collector, critic, art dealer, or others active in the American art world, and would like to contact a staff member about donating them to the Archives of American Art, please email Liza Kirwin, deputy director, at KirwinL@si.edu.

The following kinds of papers are most useful to researchers:

  • Personal letters from colleagues in the arts, family and friends covering a wide span of years.
  • Professional correspondence with galleries, dealers, collectors, critics, institutions, and organizations, including drafts or copies of outgoing letters
  • Diaries or journals giving a day-by-day view of the subject's ideas and activities, travels, sales, exhibitions, and options
  • Sketchbooks, loose sketches, and studies
  • Photographs, slides, film, audio and video not only of work, but of the subject's family, friends and studio
  • Lectures, addresses, and unpublished articles
  • Scrapbooks, clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements
  • Teaching material, including lecture notes, reports, and comments
  • Research files
  • Financial papers, including bills, receipts, lists, and ledgers

The Archives of American Art depends upon the generosity of the visual arts community, their friends, and their families for donations of letters, photographs, sketches, journals and other files which allow historians, students, and the public to understand and appreciate art and the role of the artist in America.