How to Make an Archive Travel? was a research project undertaken in 2016 and located at the Women’s Art Library (WAL) at Goldsmiths Library and the Centre for Invention and Social Process in the Sociology Department (CISP) at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The project had two aims:

  • To make a smartphone ‘app’ that showcases the artworks of women featured in the WAL archive. The WAL’s comprehensive archive contains a wide variety of materials about women artists including slides, CVs, written statements, exhibition information, catalogues, invitations and press reviews. While a wealth of valuable resources have been collected by the WAL, the materials of the archive physically reside in the special collections section of Goldsmiths’ Library with limited public access to its contents. By making the ‘WAL app’ we aim to provide a way for some of these materials to travel outside the walls of the Library – i.e. ‘to make the archive travel’.
  • To research how ‘effective’ digital feminist interventions may be – i.e. can a smartphone app ‘make this archive travel’? Can this app raise awareness not only of the Women’s Art Library archive, but also women artists and their work? And (how) can ‘effectiveness’ be measured? Overall, this project seeks to understand the possibilities and limitations of feminist interventions that employ app technologies through the case study of the WAL App.

The Principal Investigator  

Dr. Ana-Maria Herman was the principal investigator for How to Make an Archive Travel?

Prior to this project, Dr. Herman completed her PhD in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, examining social media development and use in museums. Dr. Herman also holds and MBA and an MSc, as well as professional experience directing technology strategies and developing complex financial cases for technology initiatives in large organisations.

This project would not have been possible without the help of a supportive community. Special thanks to the Curator of the Women’s Art Library, Althea Greenan, without whose support this project could not happen and to Dr. Michael Guggenheim, Co-Director of the Centre for Invention and Social Process for welcoming this project at CISP in 2016.

The Women’s Art Library

The Women’s Art Library began as an artists’ initiative that developed into an arts organization publishing catalogues and books as well as a magazine from the early 1980s to 2002. The main purpose however was to provide a place for women artists to deposit unique documentation of their work. WAL collected personal files that functioned together as an alternative public space to view and experience women’s art. Thousands of artists from around the world are represented in some form in this collection. To find out more about the WAL and its collections visit the Library’s website.

The Funding of this Project

This project has received equal funding from the Women’s Art Library, Goldsmiths’ Research Development Funds (CIG) and Goldsmiths’ Public Engagement Grants.