Archives contain "materials created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the function and responsibilities of their creator, especially those materials maintained using the principles of provenance, original order, and collection control; permanent records." (Society of American Archivists, A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology, 2005).
Special Collections "are often resources in a variety of formats that are distinctive and have intrinsic value to the institution." (American Library Association, Special Collections, 2018). Because of their individualized nature special collections can encompass materials ranging from archives, artists' books, textiles, rare books, posters, photography, electronic files, and more.
There are many ways to connect art and archives. Some of the most obvious connections include collections of artists papers held by archival institutions, or the fact that most art museums include an archive. But artists also use archives to inform their practice in a variety of ways. These include incorporating archival materials into their practice in some way, using the stories found in archives to create a piece of art that represents that human experience or time period, or using the theme of archives to inform their projects.
For examples of how archives have been used in art in our local area (and beyond!), check out the links below!