Tate launches online archive

Tate has digitised thousands of materials for its Archives and Access project, which will present its archive to the rest of the world via the world wide web. Approximately 52,000 sketchbooks, photographs, letters and technical records are now available on its website for free.
Tate said that this project, which has been made possible through the £2 million in financial support provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is one of the ‘richest and most comprehensive digital art and archival resources in Europe”.
Items previously only accessible in person at Tate Archive can now be engaged with remotely, allowing people unprecedented and easy access to this huge and intriguing resource, one that offers fascinating insight into some of the most important figures in British art.
Highlights include up to 3,000 photographs taken by the post-war artist Nigel Henderson – including unpublished black and white negatives of the Scottish sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi – and ‘tender’ love letters sent by the painter Paul Nash to his wife Margaret.
One letter, penned in 1913, before they were even wed, reads: “My hearts little darling, my rosy baby, my little brown bird – God bless you and kiss you.
“How happy I am to love you … how mad happy I am to be going to see you tomorrow. Only a day from this hour and I shall have that naughty girl in my arms, a wriggling and a blushing – so warm and soft and tempting so snooky & snoozly & sweet & fragrant – Oh I shall kiss her into a dream.”
Some 40 sketchbooks belonging to the English artist Graham Sutherland, which are vivid in scope and full of drawings of major works, and ‘fond’ letters from the abstract artist Ben Nicholson to his father are two further examples of outstanding archival material that anyone can now access.
“We’ve been a hidden treasure for too long really,” the archive’s head, Adrian Glew, was quoted by the Guardian as saying. “It is a national archival treasure, but it is for the enrichment of the whole world; we’d like it to reach as wide an audience as we can.”
As part of the online experience, Tate has been thinking about new and more appropriate ways that people can engage with these documents. The outcome of this includes an ‘Albums’ feature, which offers visitors the ability to effectively curate their own mini-collection of archive material.
There is more to it. People can then add to, annotate and share their collections with friends, family members and colleagues. Other developments include the production of a series of films that explore the project and a UK-wide learning programme.
Cadogan Tate has extensive experience in shipping fine art all over the world.