NYARC is ten years old: A look back on accomplishments

  • Posted on Mar 16, 2017 by

A great deal has been accomplished since NYARC was established ten years ago. Let’s take a moment to briefly look at what we have achieved so far. First of all, none of what we have accomplished could have been possible without the support of our Museum Administrators and our respective Museum staff, especially our own dedicated and talented professional teams in our libraries and archives. We have been very lucky to have Lily Pregill as our NYARC Coordinator who has been key to making our collective work come together in a seamless way. Lily worked closely with our staff to move our projects ahead. For example, she was overseeing two working teams focused on technical issues and implementation of new resources. We congratulate Lily for her great work making NYARC a success and wish her the best as she moves on to a new position as Head of Information Systems at the Getty Research Institute. She will be very missed by us, but we are delighted she is going to a new and challenging role and perhaps can spread the collaborative work that we have initiated through NYARC.

We are also very grateful to major funders such as the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, especially Don J. Waters, Senior Program Officer for Scholarly Communications, who has guided NYARC from an idea to a scholarly resource that benefits a large and diverse community of researchers. Max Marmor, President of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, has been instrumental in establishing the NYARC Kress Fellowship post-graduate program that provides opportunities to emerging art librarians who encourage use of the research collections held in our respective institutions. We also extend a big thank you to Dr. Tula Giannini, Dean and Professor at Pratt Institute, who has consistently supported NYARC since its beginning by collaborating with us on several grants. She has also established a fellows program that allows Pratt students to contribute to several projects in each of our libraries and archives to gain practical experience in preparation for their careers. METRO has supported several NYARC digitization projects that make our collections more accessible in a thematic way. Nate Hill, METRO’s Executive Director, has been especially supportive of our collaborations and has helped us move our projects forward.

NYARC grew from a need to shine a light on our research collections that have been traditionally hidden behind our museums' object collections. These research collections very often provide an intellectual link to the museum objects and are of great interest to researchers working locally, nationally and internationally. These research collections, made up of libraries and archives, very often provide information about the objects in our respective museum collections. Information can be found about the makers of the objects, when the objects were made, how they were made and why, and how the objects traveled to each of the museum collections. The research collections also provide a view into the cultural legacy of the world around us on a global scale and very often go beyond the scope of the museum collections held by our respective institutions. Together the NYARC collections support art historical research across the entire span of art history ranging from ancient art up to and including contemporary art. We have a shared collection development plan that allows us to continually build on our existing strengths. In response to a demand for more information about our research collections, NYARC has allowed us to raise the visibility of the library and archive collections within our institutions for all of our users working now and in the future.

The NYARC collaboration encourages us to think "outside of the box" and to develop strategies together as library and archive professionals that would be difficult to do separately at our own institutions. NYARC benefits go beyond the needs of the libraries and archives and extend to each institution’s priorities to provide access to its collections, and to foster the educational mission that each museum plays on a local, national, and international level. Working together, we have developed a brand that speaks to our users both collectively and individually while retaining our own identification and brand.

For more information about the history of NYARC and its programs, visit the NYARC website. The following is a brief summary of NYARC's major accomplishments to date:

  • Arcade offers over one million bibliographic records representing books, periodicals, auction catalogs, special collections, photo and paper archives, archives, and electronic resources for researchers. Arcade provides a cost efficiency for running one online catalog system instead of three separate systems. Cost efficiency is also found in staffing to support the online system.
  • Newly implemented as part of our Arcade offerings, NYARC Discovery is a research tool and a gateway to a trove of rich and varied materials, much of it unique, on art and cultural history spanning the spectrum from ancient Egypt to contemporary art. It is a way to find books, exhibition catalogs, auction sale catalogs, artists' books, images, online journal articles, historical newspapers, archives, web archives, and more.
  • Web archiving at NYARC has been developed with a grant from the Mellon Foundation to initiate a program of archiving specialized art historical resources that live on the Internet. This program stemmed from a pilot study that demonstrated that types of research materials that were originally in printed form were increasingly migrated to online versions available exclusively on the web. The conclusion was that there is an urgent need to capture these web-based resources including auction catalogs, catalogues raisonnes, and scholarly research projects as well as artist, gallery, and museum websites because otherwise there is a real and imminent danger of a “digital black hole” in the art historical record. This is a massive undertaking and NYARC is reaching out to other institutions to expand the process of web archiving in a collaborative and organized plan hosted by the Frick Art Reference Library. For more information about this important initiative please see this interview between Stephen Bury and Lily Pregill.
  • Shared print reserve – in 2012, the NYARC libraries began to review and evaluate duplicate serial titles. The result has allowed us to remove select duplicate titles and in a few cases consolidate our holdings to create one complete run. Other positive results include more relief of our storage space constraints and updating of our periodical holdings leading to improved document delivery to our users. Consortial sharing and lending has been formalized and expanded through improved scanning capabilities.


NYARC has been expanding access to its collections by adding digital content to the Internet Archive and by connecting to other consortia and projects such as the Getty Research Portal.

Digital access to our collections has been improved by the creation of thematic online exhibits and creation of ebooks and other resources drawn from our collections. Here are two examples of NYARC collaborative online exhibitions (The Gilded Age and The Vienna Secession) and a slide from a thematic presentation showcasing a shared collection strength:

Finally, thinking collaboratively is an incredible asset especially as we face the challenges presented by libraries and archives today. Developing solutions together is so much easier than trying to doing it alone. We plan strategically together to support our institutional missions and needs as well as the research needs of our users. As we look ahead to the next ten years, NYARC will continue to develop sustainable and innovative programs that enhance the information services we provide to scholars worldwide. We welcome the opportunity to work together with new partners to begin new initiatives that build on past accomplishments.  

Deirdre Lawrence, Principal Librarian, Brooklyn Museum on behalf of the NYARC Directors


Banner image:
Image detail: Sato, Koichi. Poster Celebrating 10th Anniversary of "Tategumi Yokogumi" Magazine. 1993. Museum of Modern Art, New York. http://www.moma.org/collection/works/5951?

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