Over 100,000 photographs, 2,000 films and videos and 500 linear feet of print materials—all documenting aspects of American design history—make the Art Center Archives a treasure trove for exploration by scholars, faculty, students and the general public. But making those materials accessible to a world beyond campus raises challenging questions: Who decides what to preserve first? Once digitized, where should a collection live online? How does one prepare for inevitable changes in technology?
To begin tackling questions like these—and to start the process of bringing the Art Center Archives to the world—the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2013 awarded the College a prestigious grant to launch a pilot project to digitize, preserve and make accessible a portion of Art Center’s industrial design collection. As the project wraps up one year later, Bob Dirig shares his thoughts about collaboration, unexpected outcomes and the future of the College as a locus of art and design scholarship.