Recently Commissioned or Completed Media Art

  Vulnerable small

Media art currently displayed in a gallery or in the process of being displayed.

Group: Media Art

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

Trend towards greater risk

Previous classification: Vulnerable

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within one year

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on many people and sectors.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a small effort to preserve materials in this group, requiring the application of proven tools and techniques.


Media art recently acquired by galleries that utilizes specific hardware and software in order to be accessed or exhibited.

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Lack of documentation to enable maintenance; lack of clarity with respect to intellectual property; complex interdependencies on specific hardware, software or operating systems; lack of capacity in the gallery or workshop; lack of strategic investment; complex external dependencies

‘Lower Risk’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Strong documentation; clarity of preservation path and ensuing responsibilities; proven preservation plan; capacity of workshop to support artwork at de-installation; capacity of gallery to conserve after de-installation; capacity of gallery to re-install work

2021 Review

This entry was added in 2019 as a separate entry, but it was previously introduced in 2017 under ‘Media Art’ with particular reference to historical media art which was categorised as ‘critically endangered’. It was added for greater specificity in its recommendation, to represent works commissioned in the last five years where there is a reasonable expectation that documentation has been produced or could still be obtained. While the 2020 Jury found no change in trend, the 2021 Jury discussed on how prospects for long-term preservation depend entirely on whether the artwork is collected post-commission and by an organisation with the resources to care for it.

The imminence of action is  time-sensitive, requiring working with the artist to get the documentation from them about their work and what is needed before it is too late. Furthermore there remains vulnerability for the smaller museums or the ones that do not take media art as seriously. For these reasons it the Jury agreed that the classification remain vulnerable but trend changed towards greater risk.

Additional Jury Comments

By the time digital art, time-based media, etc., has entered into the permanent care of a stewarding institution, many of its technologies are already end-of-life, unsupported, or the hardware components have deteriorated. Often the expertise to maintain these many interacting components sits outside the host organization, with a technical supplier to the gallery, and this is in itself vulnerable to business change. Although there are a few exceptions, there is a need for greater capacity within the museum and gallery sector to address the challenges.

There have been new initiatives for guidance and examples of institutions taking wider sectoral responsibility for standards, which have helped with the effort to preserve, such as Matters in Media Art information resource and guidance. See:

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