The Smithsonian Archives of American Art in Washington D.C. has acquired the archive of Austin gallery Women & Their Work. The Smithsonian is the largest repository in the world, containing more than 16 million items including primary source materials on the visual arts in America.
The 42-year archive of the gallery’s history, totaling more than 80 boxes of artist files, letters, contracts, media storage platforms and more, will be available to D.C. residents and online by request. One highlight of the collection is a letter from Georgia O’Keefe written to Rita Starpattern, a co-founder of Women & Their Work.
The Smithsonian will also preserve Women & Their Work’s website, preserving details from exhibitions, education programs, and performances going back to 1977. Also included are the more than 140 publications the gallery has produced.
“From its location in the heart of Texas, Women & Their Work has fostered feminist art and art by women from across the nation since the 1970s, and the Archives is thrilled to be the home of these records documenting its foundational decades,” states Josh Franco Ph.D., the National Collector at the Smithsonian.
After 25 years at its previous location at 1710 Lavaca Street, which was sold in 2017, W&TW moved to its current location, which it owns, at 1311 E. César Chavez Street in Austin.
Women & Their Work’s mission is to foster the artistic growth of women artists by encouraging them to make new, adventurous work and to develop audiences for whom contemporary art is meaningful. For over 40 years, Women & Their Work has been a cornerstone of the Austin arts community and has actively developed the careers of more than 1,900 women artists, presenting hundreds of visual art exhibitions, music, dance and theater events, film festivals and education programs. Nationally recognized for the quality of its work, Women & Their Work has played an important role in the development of the visual and performing arts in Texas.