The archives are part of the artist’s life work and the greatest single collection of ephemera documenting the diverse worlds in which Warhol was active. The collection consists of over 8,000 cubic feet of material – perhaps half a million objects – and functions as an integral part of The Warhol Museum, along with his paintings, films, video work, sculpture and graphic art. The collection includes scrapbooks of press clippings related to Warhol’s work and his private and public life; art supplies and materials used by Warhol; posters publicizing his exhibitions and films; about 4,000 audio tapes of conversations between Warhol and his associates; thousands of documentary photographs; a nearly complete run of Interview magazine, which Warhol co-founded in 1969; his extensive library; hundreds of decorative art objects; many personal items such as clothing, and over thirty of the silver-white wigs that became one of Warhol’s defining physical features.
The keystone of the archives collection is Warhol’s Time Capsules. This serial work, spanning a thirty-year period from the early 1960s to his death in 1987, consists of 610 containers (mainly standard-sized cardboard boxes), which Warhol, beginning in 1974, filled, sealed and sent to storage. Warhol used these boxes to manage the bewildering quantity of material that routinely passed through his life. Photographs, newspapers and magazines, fan letters, business and personal correspondence, art work, source images for art work, books, exhibition catalogues, and telephone messages, along with objects and countless examples of ephemera, such as announcements for poetry readings and dinner invitations, were placed on an almost daily basis into a box kept conveniently next to his desk.
The contents of one capsule are always on display in the 3rd floor Archives gallery and changes periodically.
We are still cataloguing this vast amount of primary research material, and will soon be filling our collection database with thousands of searchable records.