One person points to a painting on an easel while another person looks at the painting.

American artist Jacob Lawrence critiquing student work in 1968. Unidentified photographer. Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture records, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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American Art Resources

April 26, 2023

One of the ways the Terra Foundation fulfills its global mission is by supporting organizations to create a wide range of digital learning and engagement resources about American art. These materials are available online and easily accessible to people around the world. Projects include support for archival and research centers, websites, recorded lectures and events, teaching tools, and digital publications and resources.

Smithsonian Archives of American Art

The foundation’s first large-scale digital project supported the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. In 2005, the Terra Foundation and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art set out to create an unparalleled virtual repository of source material for the study of the visual arts of the United States. The Archives received a multi-million-dollar grant to develop a digitization program that would deliver free online access to some of the Archives’s most significant collections. These funds enabled Archives staff to:

  • establish an innovative, archival approach to large-scale digitization
  • design and program the technical infrastructure and public-facing website
  • arrange and process collections
  • manage the resulting digital repository of more than 1.5 million digital files

The foundation awarded a second multi-million dollar grant to support another five years of digitization and establish a new position, the Terra Foundation Project Manager for Online Scholarly and Educational Initiative, to anticipate and respond to new digital modes of learning, scholarship, curatorship, and reference, and engage and familiarize growing audiences worldwide with the Archives’ holdings.

The Terra Foundation Center for Digital Collections is a virtual repository of a cross-section of the Archives’s collections. Since 2005, over 270 archival collections have been digitized and posted online, comprising over 3 million images, and over 16,000 documents have been cataloged and made accessible online.

Explore below some of the additional digital projects supported by the Terra Foundation.