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

increased riskTrend towards greater risk

Previous classification: Vulnerable


Trend in 2022:


No change No Change


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; ; lack of documentation about artist intent

2021 Jury 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. It was added for greater specificity for its recommendations, 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 how prospects for long-term preservation depend entirely on whether the artwork is collected post-commission and by an organization with the resources to care for it. They agreed that the classification remains Vulnerable but with a trend towards greater risk because 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 a vulnerability for the smaller museums or others that do not take the preservation of media art as seriously.

Additional 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: 


Case Studies or Examples:


See also

  • NEW MEDIA MUSEUMS: Creating Framework for Preserving and Collecting Media Arts in V4, initiated by the Olomouc Museum of Art as a joint international platform for sharing experience with building and maintaining collections of new media artworks across different types of institutions. The aim of the project is to find workable methods for heritage institutions to build and maintain collections of media arts, which are necessary for safeguarding this area for the benefit of society. Online at 

  • The Collaborative Infrastructure for sustainable access to digital art LIMA project, to prevent the loss of digital artworks and to commonly develop the knowledge to preserve these works in a sustainable way. The project ‘Infrastructure sustainable accessibility digital art’ invests in research, training, knowledge sharing and conservation to prevent the loss of both digital artworks and the knowledge to preserve them. Online at



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