The rolling stacks in the archive
The rolling stacks in the archive store.

Hello and welcome to the first in a series of 40 blogs to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Tate Archive. I’m Adrian Glew, head of Tate Archive, the world’s largest archive of British fine art  from 1900, housing more than 750 archive collections including diaries, sketchbooks, letters and born-digital material. I first became interested in archives when, as a young boy, I would spend many hours in my parent’s loft becoming absorbed by old ledgers, invoices, letters, photographs and ephemera amongst a motley collection of model yachts and boats that my grand-father had made.  It was a fascinating, chaotic, world that I had an intense desire to order!  But it wasn’t until much later after my studies at SOAS that I had my first real taste of working in an archive at Lambeth Palace.  I was hooked, and after a couple of other archival jobs and post-graduate degrees in Art History and Archive Administration, I landed at Tate where I have been able to combine my love of art with a love of archives.

Adrian Glew talks to researchers
Adrian Glew talks to researchers about the Gabo material held in the archive.

As the Archivist, I manage an enthusiastic and creative team of six Archive Curators, Archive Cataloguers and an Assistant Archive Curator. We all have varied working days with members of the team currently cataloguing collections as diverse as Cecil CollinsAudio Arts and David Sylvester. The days of archives languishing in boxes on shelves are long gone as we pride ourselves on re-energising archival material in unusual ways -  from behind-the-scenes tours and outreach work to displays of archival material and microsites as well as other amazing online resources such as Stanley Spencer’s Church-House in virtual reality. The campaign, Tate Archive 40, was specifically devised to thank all those who have helped to create and support this internationally renowned resource, as well as to stimulate interest in our work, raise our profile and to encourage further donations from the fine art community.  Since 1970, when the Archive was established to provide a safe haven for art archives in danger of being exported, artists, their families, art institutions and galleries have been incredibly generous in donating their papers and records to Tate.  So, for each year of our existence, we will be highlighting a single treasure in the blog. These blogs will be posted each week from now until December 2010, so keep coming back to check what’s new - we’d love to hear from you!

Written by Adrian Glew