Behind the Scenes

How We Find "Treasures from the Archives"

We are excited to share our progress on the Archival Project of scanning and indexing endless archives. We currently have two university students assisting in scanning and organizing our boxes of photos and documents, along with the guidance of Lisa Yarnell who has an advanced degree in photography archiving and collection.

Progress is steady, but slow, and began this past summer of 2017. Most of the two boxes of photographs and catalogs are already completed. There are about seven more boxes of letters and documents. If we continue at the rate we are going, it may take several years to complete the project. We are scanning at a high resolution for detailed images, thus it takes about five minutes per item. We would like to step up the pace of scanning to ensure that the project could be finished in less than a year.

Anna and Hannah are doing a fantastic job!

Uncovering a Treasure Trove

Polaroids of the Philadelphia Civic Center Fountain (now at the Woodmere Art Museum) by Harry Bertoia. Photo © Harry Bertoia Foundation

We are uncovering treasure troves of sculpture photos that are proving to be invaluable.

These were Polaroids (remember those cameras that produced an instant snapshot?) taken by Harry Bertoia himself. So cool!

Harry Bertoia Foundation Archives go as far back as the 1940s

Early drawing by Harry Bertoia. Photo © Harry Bertoia Foundation

The foundation houses numerous boxes of old files including letters, sculpture snapshots, slides, exhibition catalogs, articles, movie reels, scrapbooks, and other miscellaneous items. Many are yellowed, fraying, and in desperate need of proper management with some dates going as far back as the 1940's. These are separate from scanned files from Bertoia’s shop, and other papers donated to the Smithsonian.

The goal is to scan and store digitally each relevant item, while at the same time indexing the contents for ease of future reference. The files are stored on the cloud. All archives will be properly protected in glassine envelopes or plastic Ziplocs. Ultimately, the physical archives will be given to an appropriate university or museum, along with the digital files to facilitate research.

Requests to the Foundation for information have quadrupled in the five years since our founding, and increase annually.

Interest in Bertoia is pervasive in America and increasingly prominent worldwide. Over 70 American museums hold works by Bertoia in their permanent collections; about half a dozen commercial galleries consider him one of their mainstays, and his work has attracted attention of auction houses (Sotheby's has held three stand-alone sales).

Art historical research on the artist has also increased in recent years, partly instigated by museum exhibitions at Cranbrook Art Museum near Detroit, the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, and (forthcoming in 2019) the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas.

Requests to the Foundation for information have quadrupled in the five years since our founding, and increase annually. Given this surge of attention, we see an immediate need for comprehensive data and expect demand to only increase. The deteriorating condition of the physical archives dictates that this project be completed sooner than later.

If you would like to help pay Anna and Hannah, please make a tax deductible donation by clicking here.

We would benefit greatly from a half-time archival aide. 20 hrs./week at $15/hr. for 50 weeks = $15,000. Any portion or the entire amount would further the legacy of Harry Bertoia and make us here at the Harry Bertoia Foundation very happy!