Collection Overview

AAA’s collection is a dynamic, growing body of material intended to reflect contemporary artistic practice and developments of Asia within an international context. Built through a systematic programme of research and information gathering, AAA is widely regarded as one of the most valuable public collections of primary and secondary source material about contemporary art in Asia.

Built of 85% material donations, the Archive is a community effort that has grown from a single bookshelf in 2000 to a collection of over 50,000 records, comprised of hundreds of thousands of physical and digital items. It includes books and catalogues, audiovisual material, rare periodicals, primary source material, and individual personal archives.

AAA fills a crucial role by preserving documentation about the field and by activating the material it houses through public programmes and research activities. AAA’s activities however are not about ownership; the Archive believes in preservation through sharing and gladly accepts digital copies of material held elsewhere. The collection is accessible free of charge from AAA’s physical space and searchable from anywhere in the world via its online catalogue.

In 2010, in order to make more of its collection available to the public, AAA began a major digitisation initiative; the newly launched Collection Online is the first step in the realisation of AAA’s goal to provide access for all to its extensive resources. more...

Collection Online

While creating access to the Archive has always been critical for AAA, it is only now, with its newly developed digital collection management system, that AAA is able to offer online access for all to the digital material in its collection. Newly accessible resources include scanned images, correspondences, and artists’ personal documents, as well as streaming audio and video of performance art, artist talks, lectures, and other art events. After making an initial batch of digital material available to the public, AAA will stagger online delivery of its collection, prioritising certain material for earlier access. This includes Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990; The Chabet Archive: Covering Fifty Years of the Artist's Materials; Salon Natasha Archive; and Another Life: The Digitised Personal Archive of Geeta Kapur and Vivan Sundaram. AAA will also share In-house Audio-Visual Productions that document AAA programmes, interviews with key individuals, and significant art events. Though AAA has a policy of openness, it does not have the permission to make everything in its collection available through the Collection Online platform but instead aims to deliver as much information as possible.

Special Collections

The Special Collections comprise groups of material gathered from donated personal collections and focused research projects undertaken by AAA. Tangible material in the Special Collections is housed in a fireproof room with temperature and humidity control. On-site access to the Special Collections is possible by making a request to library staff. AAA’s activities however are not about ownership; the Archive believes in preservation through sharing and gladly accepts digital copies of material held elsewhere. All of the Special Collections material in digital format is available on computers on-site at AAA and the Archive is working to make as much of it available through the Collection Online as possible.


Shortlists: Thematic Guides to the Collection

While working to introduce a broad audience to its resources through education and public programmes, AAA has noted that many people experience difficulty knowing ‘where to begin’. To provide such users with meaningful points of entry, AAA identifies certain themes in the context of contemporary art in Asia and invites individuals with expertise in the related subject to compile ‘Shortlists’ of recommended readings from AAA’s collection accompanied by an introductory essay. Each Shortlist has an individual perspective and is intended to be useful to those who seek a general introduction to a particular area of contemporary art in Asia.


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