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Archives

The Whitney Museum of American Art Archives collects, preserves, and provides access to the Museum’s historical records and other primary source collections that further the study of twentieth-century and contemporary American art. The Institutional Archives document the origins, development, and activities of the Whitney Museum, and include records dating back to the formation of the Whitney Studio Club in 1913. The holdings include a wide range of primary materials, providing insight into past exhibitions, programs, and events. As a vital resource for Museum staff and external researchers from a wide range of disciplines, these unique primary sources inform essays, dissertations, books, exhibitions, and numerous other projects each year.  

Visit the Whitney Finding Aids platform to search and browse the archival collections.

Whitney Finding Aids


Access to the Archives

The Whitney Museum of American Archives provides access to its primary holdings for research purposes only. Researchers may request to consult archival materials on-site at the Frances Mulhall Achilles Library & Archives in West Chelsea. The reading room is open by appointment only Monday–Friday, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm with a one-hour closure from 1:00 pm to 2:00pm.

To request an appointment, please email archives@whitney.org and include the following information:

  • Your name and any available institutional affiliation.
  • A description outlining the purpose and subject of your research. 
  • A list of the archival materials you wish to consult.
  • When you would like to visit.

Archives staff can assist in identifying materials and collections of relevance to the subject of research. Archives staff will not share your personal information or project description with anyone outside of the Research Resources department at the Whitney Museum without your permission. We strongly encourage researchers to contact the Archives at least one month prior to when they would like to visit.


Institutional Archives

The following is a list of collections held by the Whitney Museum Archives with links to available finding aids and digital projects. Finding aids serve to assist the researcher in requesting items from the collection by providing a summary of a collection’s history and arrangement, information about its creator, and an inventory of its contents.

Whitney Exhibition Records

Main Branch Exhibition Records, 1931–2004 
These administrative and exhibition records date from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney's earliest efforts at supporting and displaying work by American artists, before the Whitney Museum was founded.

Downtown Branch Exhibition Records, 1970-1992 
The collection comprises exhibition records from shows mounted at the Museum’s first satellite branch, which operated in lower Manhattan from 1973-1992. Closely aligned with the Independent Study Program (ISP), the Downtown Branch museum provided a space for young scholars in the fields of art history and museum studies. Materials include documentation of early exhibitions organized by ISP Helena Rubenstein Curatorial Fellows, such as “Nine Artists/Coenties Slip” (January 10-February 14, 1974), “The Prison Show: realities and representations” (April 21-June 12, 1981), and “Site Seeing: Travel and Tourism in Contemporary Art” (April 3-June 7, 1991).  

Champion Branch Exhibition Records, 1981-1993
This collection comprises exhibition records from the second branch of the Whitney Museum of American Art (1981-1992), which was located at the headquarters of Champion International Corporation at 1 Champion Plaza in Fairfield County, Stamford, Connecticut.  The records consist of correspondence, loan agreements, installation plans, photographs, publicity, and ephemera produced by staff members involved in the creation of exhibitions. 

Altria Branch Exhibition Records, 1983-2000
This collection comprises exhibition records from the Altria Branch of the Whitney Museum of American Art, which operated from 1983-2008. The records consist of correspondence, loan agreements, installation information, photographs, publicity, and ephemera produced by staff members involved in exhibition planning. Significant material documents the acclaimed “Performance on 42nd street” series.

Equitable Center Branch Exhibition Records, 1986-1992
The collection comprises exhibition records from the Equitable Center branch of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s tenure which was located at the Equitable Tower, a 54-story building designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes. The materials include correspondence, installation information, photographs, publicity, and ephemera produced and collected by staff members in multiple departments during the process of organizing and presenting exhibitions.

Whitney Administrative Records

Office of the Director Records, 1936-1996
The collection comprises records produced during the individual tenures of four former directors of the Whitney Museum of American Art: Lloyd Goodrich (1936-1986), John Baur (1967-1986), Tom Armstrong, (1967-1986), and David Ross, (1990-1995). Records include correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, notes, drafts of speeches and writings, itineraries, and research materials pertaining to artists, institutional events, and exhibition planning. Gathered here, the records provide unique insight into the activities of the Office of the Director, senior-level management, and the overall Museum during a span of sixty years. 

Early Administrative Records, 1930-1960
The collection encompasses a selection of central administrative records produced by Whitney Museum staff and maintained by the Museum secretary from 1930 to approximately 1960. Records include administrative files, correspondence, board meeting minutes, annual reports, photographs, publications, exhibition planning documents, property records, press announcements, and clippings. The records provide unique insight into the early history and operations of the Whitney Museum of American Art. 

Historical Photographs Collection, 1905-2006
This collection of images includes negatives, prints, slides, and transparencies pertaining to Whitney educational programs, performances, special events, artworks, artists, Whitney Museum staff members, Whitney trustees, and Whitney Museum properties and galleries. The collection was originally collected and maintained by the Museum’s rights and reproduction department for the purposes of fulfilling image requests from staff members and the external public. 

Curatorial Film and Video Department Artist Files, 1970-1998
Created or compiled by members of the Curatorial Film and Video Department, this collection comprises material on a broad range of artists working primarily in film and video. Documents include original correspondence, exhibition brochures, announcements, articles, press releases, questionnaires, program notes, resumes, and other materials. In addition to unique documentary material related to individual artists, the collection provides insight into the origins and development of the Whitney Film and Video Department and the integration of film and video work into curatorial programming. 

Curatorial Records, 1927-1999
This collection comprises a selection of records from fifteen Whitney Museum curators. The material includes correspondence, exhibition records, meeting minutes, administrative planning documents, and research materials that provide documentation of the activities of each individual curator within the greater scope of Museum programming. 

Communications Department Press Clippings, 1935-1995
This collection encompasses press clippings collected by staff in the department of communications at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The bulk of the clippings are of reviews, listings, and other news articles related to Museum exhibitions, programs, and events. Other significant clippings pertain to key developments in the history of the Museum, the activities of multiple museum branches, and ongoing programming such as the New American Filmmakers Series.  

Property Records, 1949–1993
The materials in this collection provide documentation of multiple properties owned or operated by the Whitney Museum from 1949 to 1993. This includes the Museum at 22 West 54th Street, the Marcel Breuer building at 945 Madison Avenue, and the brownstones of the Whitney Studio Club and Galleries on West Eighth street in Greenwich Village. The collection includes correspondence, memoranda, press clippings, special events information, architectural plans, newsletters and other materials. 

Performance Records, 1968-1997
This collection contains records relating to performing arts events held at the Whitney Museum and its branches from 1968 to 1997. Documents include press releases, news clippings, programs, photographs (promotional and documentary), memoranda, budgets, and correspondence. The collection documents programs such as the Composers’ Showcase, Tuesday Nights at the Whitney, Summer Concerts, Downtown Branch Performances, the Downtown Drive-In, Performance on 42nd Street, among others. 


Research Collections

Arshile Gorky research collection, 1920s–1990s
Assembled from various sources—the artist himself, his family, his biographers, Whitney Museum staff, American Art Research Council, published sources, and museums and galleries—this collection chronicles Gorky’s life and work.

Edward and Josephine Hopper Research Collection, 1894–2000
The Edward and Josephine Hopper Research Collection documents the long relationship between Edward Hopper (1882-1967) and the Whitney Museum of American Art. It includes voluminous documentation of the artist’s life and work compiled by Whitney curators in the course of preparing exhibitions of Hopper’s work and the Hopper Catalogue Raisonné, as well as correspondence with Hopper and his wife Josephine, and with collectors of Hopper works.


Manuscript Collections

The Sanborn Hopper Archive at the Whitney Museum of American Art
Donated by the Arthayer R. Sanborn Hopper Collection Trust, this collection consists of about 4,000 items including more than 300 letters and notes from Hopper to his family, friends, and colleagues, twenty-one notebooks in Hopper’s own hand, and ninety notebooks by Hopper’s wife, Josephine Nivison Hopper, as well as extensive archival material relating to Hopper’s artistic career and personal life, such as photographs, personal papers, and dealer records. The Sanborn-Hopper Archive will be open to scholars by appointment after the collection is catalogued, processed, and researched, as the Whitney plans to explore potential exhibitions, programs, and publications making use of the Archive’s extraordinarily rich materials.

Funding for the processing of the Sanborn Hopper Archive is generously provided by the Leon Levy Foundation.

Resources for Rebels on Eighth Street: Juliana Force and the Whitney Museum of American Art by Avis Berman
These materials include correspondence between writer Avis Berman and Anita Duquette, Rights and Reproduction Manager at the Whitney Museum of American Art, regarding the reproduction of material from the Whitney archives for Berman’s Rebels on Eighth Street (New York: Atheneum, 1990).

Lloyd Goodrich Artists Correspondence, 1917–1978
Forming an illuminating portrait of Goodrich’s social world and art interests, this varied collection consists of letters, postcards, holiday cards, invitations, and exhibition notices that the former Director of the Whitney and his wife Edith exchanged with artists, collectors, museums and gallery staff, and other friends.

John Depol Collection, 1953–2004
This collection consists of material sent to Whitney Museum print department staff members by wood engraver John DePol between 1997 and 2004. It includes original samples of DePol’s work and documentation on his career.

Francis M. Naumann Research Collection for How, When and Why Modern Art Came to New York by Marius de Zayas, 1910–1936

This collection centers on Marius de Zayas, an influential yet largely behind-the-scenes participant in the new avant-garde art scene in New York and Paris in the 1910s and early 20s; it was assembled by Francis M. Naumann for his How, When and Why Modern Art Came to New York(Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996).

Florence Rubenfeld Collection of Archival Material for Clement Greenberg: A Life, 1988–1998
Comprising a decade of research, the material in this collection relates to the writing and publication of Clement Greenberg: a Life (New York: Scribners, 1998) by art critic Florence Rubenfeld.


Projects

The Whitney Studio Club and Galleries Collection

The Whitney Studio Club and Galleries Collection, a project funded through the generous support of the Leon Levy Foundation, brings together the Whitney Museum’s earliest documents in a fully-searchable database. In 2010, archives and exhibition publications from the Whitney’s pre-history were digitized, in an effort to both increase the visibility of these records and to preserve fragile primary source documents. Archival records, photographs, checklists, and catalogs from exhibitions organized by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Juliana Force—respectively, founder and first director of the Whitney Museum—were scanned to create high-quality digital files. Project and Library staff worked to organize and present the digital database, accessible by staff and the public.


Whitney Artists' Correspondence and Ephemera

Made possible with generous support from the Leon Levy Foundation, the Whitney Artists’ Correspondence and Ephemera project will bring focus to a specific selection of extraordinary material found in the Whitney’s Library and Archival collections. These letters, notes, personalized announcements and invitations represent a view of the thoughts and conversations between Museum staff and the artists they represented. Access to this material will make an important contribution to the history of early-twentieth-century American art and the changing tastes of the viewing public and art market.

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A 30-second online art project:
LaTurbo Avedon, Morning Mirror / Evening Mirror

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