Welcome to the Archives & Access blog! My name is Polly Christie and I am the Project Manager for Transforming Tate Britain: Archives & Access Project. The wider project team and I are going to use this blog as a way to chart and chat about the project. It is a huge, interesting and fast moving beast, and in the six months that I have been at Tate there has never been a dull moment!

Photographing the Archives © Tate Photography, Lucy Dawkins and Joanna Fernandes
Photographing the Archives

The project aims to digitise 52,000 objects from Tate’s Archive make them available online alongside the Art & Artists collection, and create a suite of interactive tools. Logistically it is one of the biggest cross-departmental projects Tate has ever embarked upon, involving colleagues from Curatorial, Photography, Learning, the Library and Archive, Information Systems, Digital, Development, Legal and Finance. And each of those departments works very differently! My job really is translating between them, smoothing out issues, bridging gaps and keeping everyone (including our HLF funders, the Board, project staff and managers etc.) up to speed on where we are and what needs to be done next. To call it a challenge doesn’t do it justice, but I have to say, I love my job, despite the blood, sweat and (occasionally) tears!

Donald Rodney Third World Briefcase Tate Archive
Donald Rodney
Third World Briefcase from a page in a sketch/notebook
Coloured felt-tip pen
TGA 200321

One of the reasons I love it is for the reason the HLF have funded it: by digitising Tate’s Archive collections (the biggest archive of British Art in the world), we are exposing a wealth of unpublished, hidden stories, narratives and histories to a global audience for the first time. This enables Britain’s artistic heritage to be explored in new ways, and in so doing, exposes the potential and power that archives possess. We will work with partners across 5 regions of the UK, not only to test, embed and work with our new content and tools, but to look at, digitise and expose their own archives, enabling local communities to access, explore and appropriate them for themselves, and use them as a tool to explore their own cultural heritage. So alongside looking at Britain’s artistic heritage, other themes like public health, adult literacy and urban regeneration will be explored through the medium of community archives around the UK. But more on that later!

Telegram from Barbara Hepworth to Ben Nicholson dated 29 Sept 1931
Telegram from Barbara Hepworth to Ben Nicholson dated 29 Sept 1931

Over the course of the project, colleagues will blog about this and lots of other aspects and activities. So do bookmark this page, and get in touch if there’s anything specific you would like us to cover. Are you interested in digitisation? Specific archives? How relevant are archives to you, for instance? Which aspects of this project are of interest?



wow this is an exciting project Polly - really keen to find out more .. :-)

Delighted to have just found out about the Tate On line Archives Project. I caught up with the progress of the project by starting at the beginning of the blog. I have learnt a great deal - both about the Tate's BIG project and how I can incorporate some of the same approaches into sorting out my own personal scrapbook! Many thanks.