Archiving the arts: resources

We want your activities, advice and initiatives to be as wide-ranging, relevant and helpful as possible to those caring for arts archives.


We gathered knowledge of arts archives through targeted surveys to archives, arts organisations, artists, funders and strategic bodies. The responses we received enabled us to add descriptions for well over 200 collections to the National Register of Archives, which is now available on the Discovery platform.

Advice and guidance

A large part of our work focused on advising those who look after arts archives on their care and management. This ranged from guidance on the best places to find funding for a particular project, practical advice on storage and access, to help with negotiations around the deposit of a collection in an established archive service.

We have gathered a range of useful resources together to help you look after records and archives of the arts. If you think there is something missing, need further advice or have information on archives of the arts of creative re-use of archives that you would like to share, please email us.

Getting started

A selection of basic guides for looking after arts records and archives:

Moving archives

Moving your archives from one location can be a complicated task – these resources offer some advice on how to go about this:

British Library Preservation Advisory Centre: Moving Collections

Institute of Conservation (ICON) guidance on the care of various categories of material including, oil paintings, archive documents and digital formats.

Managing your current records

Organisations produce records every day in many different formats – it’s vital to manage the current records you use long before they become your archives:

Information and Records Management Society resources

The National Archives – How to manage your information

The National Archives – What to keep and Why (PDF, 0.11MB)

The National Archives – Managing electronic records (PDF, 0.66MB)


The National Archives – Digitisation at The National Archives

Hampshire County Council – Go Live! Digitising your archives

National Preservation Office: Managing the Digitisation of Library, Archive and Museum collections

Examples of digitised archive collections:

Digital records

Digital records need the same level of care and management as paper, though they offer their own particular challenges. We’ve put together some key resources to give guidance on how to manage your digital records.

The National Archives:

Association of Performing Arts Collections – Preserving born-digital material

OCLC Research: You’ve Got to Walk Before You Can Run: First Steps for Managing Born-Digital Content Received on Physical Media

Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR): Born digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers and Archival Repositories

University of London Computer Centre (ULCC): Digital Preservation Training Programme (DPTP)

Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC):

Library of Congress (LOC): Personal Archiving: preserving your digital memories

PrestoSpace: working to improve and standardise practice for audio-visual material, Preservation Guide


Copyright user – specifically for the creative community; offers easy-to-understand and practical help

Own-it – Intellectual Property know-how for the creative sector from the University of the Arts London

Intellectual Property Office

BBC Filmnet – for filmmakers but also of general use

Intellectual Property Office: copyright notice for photographs, images and the Internet

Design and Artists’ Copyright Society: Licensing artworks

Case studies

Here are links to a number of case studies on our website of examples of innovative work in the archives sector relating to the arts:

For archivists with arts archives

Detailed resources for preservation, management, review and access to records and archives:

Collections Link (MLA) Benchmarks for Collections Care 2.0

Collections Trust and Renaissance East Midlands Reviewing Significance Framework

Museum of London e-learning tools on collection care

Screen Heritage UK Screen Heritage UK handbook

The National Archives Art and artists research guide

The National Archives Film, television and the performing arts research guide

West Yorkshire Archive Service Community Archive Accreditation Scheme

The National Archives – Collection Development Tools and Guidance (PDF, 0.45MB)

Get in touch

Contact the team