Meet the ARLIS/NA SIGs Series: Provenance SIG

Meet the ARLIS/NA SIGS: An ArLiSNAP blog series introducing you to the ARLIS special interest groups

Coordinators: Philip Dombowsky, Catherine Larkin

  1. How can students and new professionals get involved in your SIG? And/or are there any projects in progress that need support they can provide?

Students usually get involved in the Provenance SIG through contact after ARLIS presentations or the ARLIS website as well as those employed in our digital projects. Obviously, word of mouth from other professionals is helpful. Currently, I am working primarily on Nazi Provenance research. Since I am employed at a University, I incorporate my research into class proposals and courses. Other contacts in and outside the University will occasionally send me students in Museum Studies Programs interested in the field. My LIU student just graduated from our MA program and her thesis was on Museum provenance. My international student from Ireland intended to do her internship with me over the summer but we are now working remotely on her similar project.

New digital projects are on hold because of layoffs during the pandemic. I continue to work on my research and collaborate with other patrons.

  1. What actions has your group taken to adapt to remote community engagement? What has worked well? What lessons have you learned?

In my particular experience, I use email correspondence as well as sending scanned relevant documents and images.

I use Zoom, Google Meet and FaceTime as needed. Over the process of communications with different patrons and students, all work well but sometimes a combination is needed. I’ve learned a variety of new means of communicating. It’s helped a great deal during the shutdown and current restrictions.

  1. From your perspective, what are actions that can be taken within your SIG and the broader field of art information in order to examine the lack of diversity and develop networks of support for communities of color and specifically Black information professionals?

This of course is a topic that needs to be addressed. The arts can really take the lead on this. There is a parallel between events experienced in WW II and the inequity towards people of color in our field. I did a quick search and found that one of our members has published on this regarding Native Americans. Since I know her personally, I can start the conversation there and hopefully other like-minded members will follow. A survey of members to discover their ideas and concerns might be a good start.

See: Ramonetti, M., & Pilato, V. (2019). Keeping the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Conversations Going. Urban Library Journal, 25 (1). Retrieved from

  1. How did you first hear about/join your SIG?

I was asked in 2014 to co-coordinate our SIG by Philip Dombowsky.

  1. What are the main topics of conversation for your SIG right now? Has there been any unexpected or fruitful conversation in the past year?

I’m always delighted to see students interested in the fields of art librarianship and provenance research. For example, SIG members I’ve worked with are interested in Museum work, especially provenance research. Others have become professionals in the fields of Art Librarianship and as Digital Projects Librarians at SUNY and Digital Collections Manager at Adelphi University. 

  1. How has this SIG enhanced your professional life? 

I attended an ARLIS conference workshop on WW II Provenance Research in 2014 at the National Archives in D.C. and it took off from there. We were asked to introduce ourselves and our reason for attending. When I mentioned that I worked with the William Randolph Hearst Archive at LIU, the moderator said “Oh Hearst.” This led to intense research on Nazi Provenance, presentations, articles, and most importantly, new colleagues. See the most recent article:

The William Randolph Hearst Archive at Long Island University: A Resource for Provenance Research

  1. How can we get connected with or learn more about your SIG? (primary platform for sharing, etc.) Email is best, or 
  1. What is an emerging trend you see happening in your particular area of interest?

It would have to be provenance research in museum collections in general and digital project managing. There seems to be employment opportunities in both these fields.

  1. How have the members of your SIG been contributing to their field of practice or study in that area? (Examples from answer #5).

Student members I’ve worked with are interested in Museum work, especially provenance research. Others have become professionals in the fields of Art Librarianship and Digital Projects Librarian at SUNY and Digital Collections Manager at Adelphi University. 

  1. As you look ahead, what are your goals, vision, or dreams for your SIG for the next year?

Since predictions for a return to some semblance of normalcy will probably be late 2021-early 2022. The resolve and interaction of members is key to defining our idea on vision and goals of our SIG. 

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