Time-Based Media Working Group
In 2001, a small "support group" of six conservators, curators, and technical professionals grappling with the acquisition and exhibition of time-based media art began meeting to discuss the challenges of acquiring and caring for works of time-based media art (TBMA). In 2010, the group became an official Met working group and has grown to include about fifty members across sixteen departments within the museum, including a number of curatorial departments, conservation and scientific research departments, Museum Archives, the Counsel's Office, the Development Office, the Digital Department, and the Office of the Registrar.
Our mission is to develop and maintain museum-wide standards for collecting, preserving, and exhibiting time-based media art. Working Group members educate The Met staff about issues related to these types of artworks and advocate for better care and preservation of our time-based media holdings. The Museum's ultimate goal is to establish a full program in TBMA conservation to include permanent TBMA conservation staff, a dedicated fellowship, and to build on collaborative partnerships with the TBMA conservation community in New York and internationally.
In addition to internal programming for The Met staff, we regularly host public lectures and presentations by specialists from outside the Museum. You can learn more by visiting our events page below or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe to our mailing list.
Time-based media art encompasses works that include film, video, audio, or digital technologies that unfold to viewers over a period of time. Since the early 2000s, The Met has assembled significant holdings in time-based media art (TBMA), with acquisitions of these works having tripled over the last five years. As of 2017, The Met collection comprises over 250 works of time-based media art.
In 2001, the first two time-based media works made their way into The Met collection. In recognition of the fluid boundaries between media, the Department of Photographs acquired Ann Hamilton's abc because it seemed a natural extension of photographic concerns: it was silent and was displayed on a small monitor, whose screen was set into the wall. Later that year, Modern and Contemporary Art acquired The Quintet of Remembrance, a large-scale, room-size installation by one of the pioneers of video art, Bill Viola.
What distinguishes collection care for time-based media art from that of more-traditional art forms is the complex and evolving nature of data storage technologies and, uniquely, the necessity for ancillary modes of transmission and equipment that must be acquired, maintained, repaired, and stockpiled for future use, as many technical components of such works quickly become obsolete.
Acquisitions and Events
In addition to internal programming for The Met staff, we regularly host public lectures and presentations by specialists from outside the Museum.
In this lecture, a project team formed by the Time-Based Media Working Group reports their initial findings into an assessment of The Met's time-based media holdings and the Museum's collections management practices, in effort to design a conservation program for its collection.
Jonathan Farbowitz and Sasha Arden present on the multi-year, interdepartmental endeavor to conserve Jennifer and Kevin McCoy's Every Shot, Every Episode, 2001—a custom digital video playback installation with 277 video compact discs—returning it to exhibition readiness for the first time in more than a decade.
More in Time-Based Media
Learn more about the Photograph Conservation Department and its role in conserving time-based media.
The Met's Time-Based Media Working Group has made the following documents and templates available for artists, organizations, and collectors.
See a list of external resources related to time-based media art.