Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Founded in Detroit in 1954 by Edgar P. Richardson, then Director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, and Lawrence A. Fleischman, a Detroit executive and active young collector, the initial goal of the Archives was to serve as microfilm repository of papers housed in other institutions. This mission expanded quickly to collecting and preserving original material and, in 1970, the Archives joined the Smithsonian Institution, sharing the Institution’s mandate—the increase and diffusion of knowledge.
The Archives today is the world’s pre-eminent and most widely used research center dedicated to collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary sources that document the history of the visual arts in America.
Our vast holdings—more than 20 million letters, diaries and scrapbooks of artists, dealers, and collectors; manuscripts of critics and scholars; business and financial records of museums, galleries, schools, and associations; photographs of art world figures and events; sketches and sketchbooks; rare printed material; film, audio and video recordings; and the largest collection of oral histories anywhere on the subject of art—are a vital resource to anyone interested in American culture over the past 200 years.