Chicago, IL: Art Institute of Chicago

Visit: Met with Zoe Ryan, Design Curator for the AIC. They have about 250,000 objects in the Architecture and Design department, of which about 600-700 are specifically design from the 1980+ period.

The Department of Architecture became the Dept of Architecture and Design in 2005.  Everything they have acquired since has been photographed. Digitized.

They are still collecting decorative arts. The Architecture collection grew out of the original 30,000 drawings. Most are not digitzed. They tend to digitize images when people want to borrow items.

Their online website shows holdings. Cataloging to the “job lot” (collection) level has been done for almost all. Some are cataloged to the item level.

The Bertrand Goldberg collection (Chicago architect exhibition during our visit) came to them very well organized, and is cataloged to the item level.

Format: all is cataloged in Sirsi, the museum’s catalog database. She thinks it can be exported to Excel.  They are working with the GoogleART project.

They are collecting, but can’t take many archives because they don’t have space or $ to process and make them accessible.

Most of their collections are on site, because they function as a study center.

Discoveries: The have an oral history project – all of the interviews are available online. Many architects, and a few designers. They have audio tapes of all the lectures.

They have hundreds of architectural models – most not yet photographed.

Other area collections which were suggested:

Chicago Historical Society has a wonderful collection on Fashion (on permanent loan from CAI) Enormous and international

Check out the “Built Works Registry”

And the OSKI project. The CCA in Montreal has been a good source of information

AIC held a sumposium 2 years ago bringing together curators from around the world to talk about building collections of architecture and design. There are not yet any reports from that conference, but they are trying to obtain funding to do that.

Zoe curated an exhibition called “Hyperlinks” – book available.