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Torpedo Factory Art Center records, 1974-1996

Torpedo Factory Art Center records, 1974-1996

Torpedo Factory Art Center

Collection Information

Size: 4.7 linear ft.

Summary: Organizational records, correspondence, a file for the Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center (TFAC), business and financial records, lists and directories, reports, event files, printed material, and photographs document the history, operations, and activities of one of the largest and longest-running artist collaboratives in the United States.

Biographical/Historical Note

Art center; Alexandria, Va. Opened September 1974 in an old factory which manufactured torpedoes at the close of WWI and during WWII. The initial proposal in 1973 for the center was from Marian Van Landingham, a delegate for the State of Virginia, and Projects and Programs Director of the Alexandria Bicentennial Commission. It continues as one of the most successful, largest, and longest running artist collaboratives in the United States. In 1998, it boasts of more than eight hundred thousand visitors annually, with eighty-three studios, five cooperative galleries, an art school, and an archaeology laboratory and museum. The artists form the Torpedo Factory Artists Association. The Center is also supported by the Friends of the Torpedo Factory.

Provenance

Donated 1998 by Penelope C. Barringer for the Torpedo Factory Artists' Association.

A Finding Aid to the Torpedo Factory Art Center Records,
1974-1996
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.torpfaca
Finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald
Scope and Contents note
The Torpedo Factory Art Center records span the years 1974 to 1996, and measure 4.7 linear feet. They consist of organizational records, correspondence, an organization file for Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, business and financial records, lists and directories, reports, event files, printed material, and photographs which document the history, operations, and activities of one of the largest and longest-running artist collaboratives in the United States.
The Organizational Records Series describes the origins and operation policy of the Art Center through brief histories and copies of the constitution and by-laws. It includes minutes of meetings and ballots from elections of area representatives.
The Correspondence Series includes both external and internal memoranda and letters. These communications primarily discuss gallery business and operations of the Art Center and its interaction with the community. Additional correspondence is found in the Organization File for the Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center Series and the Event Files Series.
The Organization File for the Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center Series contains by-laws, correspondence, and newsletters which illustrate this entity's important role in fund-raising and out-reach teaching programs.
The Business and Financial Records Series contains leasing policy statements, tax records, insurance records, general budget information, payroll ledgers, rent records, dues assessments, information desk accounts, publicity receipts, and miscellaneous receipts which document the varied legal and fiscal procedures required in the operation of a large artist collaborative.
The Notes Series contains lists of artists' names, artist directories, minutes of meetings, ballots from elections of area representatives, responses to various questionnaires and surveys, and miscellaneous notes which support other series with more detailed information.
The Reports Series contains reports which describe the Art Center's interaction with the surrounding community.
The Event Files Series contains correspondence, receipts, notes, and printed material concerning the planning and execution of a wide range of special events from the large annual fund-raising Mardi Gras Costume Ball to the "Art in the Vineyards" competition held between the Art Center's artists.
The Printed Material Series contains clippings, newsletters from both the Art Center and other arts organizations, exhibition announcements and brochures.
The Photographs Series consists of photographs of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, miscellaneous artists, events, and art works.
Biographical/Historical note
Construction of the original U.S. Naval Torpedo Station on the Potomac River, in Alexandria, Virginia, began on November 12, 1918. This station was responsible for the manufacture and maintenance of torpedoes for the next five years, when work stopped and the building served as a munitions storage facility until World War II. At this time, round-the-clock production of both submarine-borne and airborne torpedoes resumed, and ten buildings were added to the complex to accommodate the increased activity.
Torpedo production halted in 1945, and eventually the buildings were used for storage by various federal agencies, including Congress and the Smithsonian Institution. In 1969, the City of Alexandria bought the complex of buildings, but an acceptable plan for their use was not found for several years.
Marian Van Landingham, a delegate for the State of Virginia, President of the Alexandria-based Art League, and Projects and Programs Director of the Alexandria Bicentennial Commission, proposed a project to renovate two of the buildings into working studio spaces for artists. Her proposal was endorsed by the Commission in December 1973, and renovations began in May 1974. Artists worked to remove 40 truckloads of debris from the buildings and, after City crews constructed partial studio walls, they painted the interior. The Torpedo Factory Art Center opened to the public in September, 1974. The new complex of artists' studios was filled from a list of juried artists, and Marian Van Landingham became the first Director of the Art Center.
By 1983, the building needed major repairs and improvements. As part of a federal program sale/lease-back agreement, the building was sold to Alexandria Art Center Associates (AACA), leased back from AACA by the City, and subleased to the Torpedo Factory Artists' Association. As part of the sale agreement, the City had a one time repurchase option to be exercised in 1998. On September 1, 1998 the Artists' Association took over all management of the building, and the City now acts as landlord.
In 1998, the Torpedo Factory Art Center boasted of more than eight hundred thousand visitors annually, with eighty-three studios, five cooperative galleries, an art school, and an archaeology laboratory and museum. The artists form the Torpedo Factory Artists Association. The center is also supported by the Friends of the Torpedo Factory.
Arrangement note
The Torpedo Factory Art Center records are arranged as nine series, based on type of document. Each series has been arranged chronologically.
Series 1: Organizational Records, 1974-1995 (box 1, 0.9 linear ft.)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1974-1995 (boxes 1-2, 1.4 linear feet)
Series 3: Organization File for Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 1980-1992 (box 3, 8 folders)
Series 4: Business and Financial Records, 1974-1995 (boxes 3-4, 1.3 linear ft.)
Series 5: Lists and Directories, 1975-1996 (box 4, 8 folders)
Series 6: Reports, 1986-1994 (box 4, 5 folders)
Series 7: Event Files, 1979-1995 (box 4, 0.3 linear feet)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1975-1995 (box 5, 24 folders)
Series 9: Photographs, 1983-1989 (box 5, 10 folders)
Provenance
Donated 1998 by Penelope C. Barringer for the Torpedo Factory Artists' Association.
Processing Information note
This collection was processed by Jean Fitzgerald in 2001.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Torpedo Factory Art Center records, 1974-1996. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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