January 19, 2022

Digital Collections: University of Iowa Libraries Makes Avant-Garde Works Accessible to the World

From the University of Iowa:

Forty years ago, the University of Iowa sponsored an international conference and exhibit on Dada, an avant-garde movement that arose as a reaction to World War I and swept Europe and America. This conference (Dada Spectrum) and exhibition (Dada Artifacts) led to the creation of the International Dada Archive at the UI Libraries in 1979.


Even before the International Dada Archive was established, the UI’s holdings in the field were extensive, and the collection has since grown to include about 75,000 objects such as books, articles, magazines, broadsheets, drawings and sketchbooks, diaries, invitations, video recordings, and sound recordings.


Today, these works are able to travel farther and reach more viewers than their artists likely ever imagined, thanks to efforts that began in the late 1990s to digitize the collection. The Digital Dada Library provides links to scanned pages of original Dada-era publications, including books, pamphlets, broadsides, and periodicals.

“We receive hundreds of thousands of hits on this collection,” says Timothy Shipe, curator of the International Dada Archive. “I’ve had people from more than 30 countries contact me to say they couldn’t teach their classes without this digital collection.”

Stephen Voyce, associate professor of English and director of the Fluxus Digital Collection, which launched in 2015, says he frequently gets emails from high school and elementary school teachers who use the digital collections in their classrooms.


Fluxus was an international and interdisciplinary group of artists who worked primarily in the 1960s and ’70s and had roots in Dada. In fact, it’s often described as neo-Dada. The year after the Dada archive was founded, artist Ken Friedman donated the Fluxus West Collection to the UI, and the collection has grown to include drawings, paintings, sculptures, and writings by internationally acclaimed artists such as Friedman, Mieko Shiomi, Nam June Paik, George Brecht, and Yoko Ono.

Read the Complete Article, View Images (approx. 1050 words)


About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.