CLUI Archive Initiatives


Morgan Cowles Archive: Resources Ensure a Lasting Legacy for CLUI Photos

Over the past fifteen years we have accumulated over 100,000 images of places and phenomena related to the American landscape. These photographs form the core of our programming here at the CLUI, and represent a distinct portrait of the nation in these times. Keeping up with the preservation, management, and distribution of these images has often been a challenge. A new initiative, the Morgan Cowles Archive, established over the last year and officially launched on December 20, 2010, has enabled us to put this effort on the front burner, to acquire better storage software and hardware, and to spend more time getting images cleaned up, organized, and out there, where they belong.

The Morgan Cowles Archive was created with an endowment established by the family and friends of Morgan John Cowles, in his memory. Morgan died in an avalanche while skiing in the Sierras in January, 2008, at the age of 39. He was a librarian, traveler, and adventurer, who worked as a map and photo archivist at the University of California-Santa Barbara’s Davidson Library. Though unknown to us, he was a follower of the programs at the CLUI, and had visited our exhibits in Los Angeles. Members of his family first approached the Center with the idea of establishing an endowed archive in his name in late 2008. The archive project has been in development since that time.

The endowment enables the Center to preserve and present the image resources of the organization for current and future generations. The commitment of the Cowles family to support this task is an unexpected honor, and one that we take seriously. It has forced us, happily, and in our best interest, to imagine and prepare for the future in ways that organizations immersed in the present sometimes fail to do. The Morgan Cowles Archive is a physical thing, an electronic storage system and a website portal, but it is also the connective tissue that bridges a gap, connecting the didactic physicality of our land use database to the public realm in a new way, and in a way that highlights the value of imagery. Web pages describing the Archive are now on the CLUI website. More images are being added to it, and a thematic search engine will become the main portal into the archive in the future.

Nevada Museum of Art Acquires Wendover Residence Program Archives: The Future of the Past is Secure

On April 13, 2010, the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art+Environment (CA+E) publically announced its acquisition of the complete and ongoing records of the Wendover Residency Program run by the CLUI. The archive represents more than 15 years of creative production supported and encouraged by the CLUI, and executed by over a hundred individuals and groups that have been official participants in the program, based out of our facilities in Wendover, Utah.
“This acquisition is a significant addition to the current CA+E Archive collection,” commented William L. Fox, Director of the Center for Art+Environment. “The CA+E is designed to be a global leader in studying how people construct creative responses to natural, built, and virtual environments and aims to collect notable archives from across the globe. The CLUI archive provides a core sample of the working practices of artists engaged at the intersections of art and geography, art and environment, and desert regions. The Museum is thrilled to have developed such a relationship and will continue to collect the archives and create an exhibition and possible publication from them.”
The announcement of the acquisition was made at the recent CA+E Advisors meeting held in Reno, Nevada and organized to develop the planning and programming for the second Art+Environment Conference, taking place September 30 through October 2, 2011.
“We are very pleased that the material from our Residence Program will be part of the CA+E Archive collection,” said Matthew Coolidge, Director of CLUI. “The CA+E Archives are emerging as an innovative and pioneering accretion of materials about art and landscape that will be a great resource to researchers of the future. We are honored to have our program be considered among the other important materials archived by the CA+E.”
The CLUI Wendover archive capped the first year of archive collecting by the CA+E, which in 2009 acquired twenty other archives from six continents. The CA+E Archive now includes materials relating to projects by more than 200 artists, including Michael Heizer, Walter De Maria, and Lita Albuquerque.

In April, the Center delivered several boxes of material covering the first ten years of the program (1996/7-2007), including documentation of work, samples, and ephemera. This April another batch of material covering the 2008 season will be sent to the archives in Reno, and every year thereafter another year’s records will be delivered.

“Since its an ongoing program, we actually need to hold on to things that may still be current and useful before sending them to the archive,” said Sarah Simons, Wendover Residence Program Manager. “This relationship [with an archive] really helps us keep a perspective on things, and will help the participants in the program find a wider audience in an established art museum.” Some Wendover resident’s work has already been featured at the museum, and more is on its way.