Rhizome, the New York–based organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of born-digital art and culture, announced today that it received a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The funds, which will be distributed over two years, will support Rhizome’s Webrecorder, the only free-to-use and open-source web-archiving platform that allows users to create archival copies of websites.
The gift is the largest in Rhizome’s history. The foundation awarded the organization, which is an affiliate of the New Museum, a $600,000 grant in 2015 to help launch the Webrecorder initiative. “With the development of rhizome.org in 1996 and the ArtBase in 1999, software creation has been a core strategy of Rhizome’s since its founding,” said Zachary Kaplan, Rhizome’s executive director. “Two years into its existence, Webrecorder is buoyed by initial success and primed for broader utility and impact. We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its major support of our vision for decentralized, high-fidelity, user-friendly web archiving.”
Since its release in August 2016, the Webrecorder tool set has expanded to include advanced features for expert users, such as “extraction,” which draws together elements from a mix of open web archives and the live web to reassemble otherwise lost webpages. Active users of the platform include the New Museum, the Frick Art Reference Library, the Posters Network at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Stanford University Press, the City University of New York, and the National Film Board of Canada.
Rhizome will present its ongoing research into the cultural impact of web archiving and preservation practices at the New Museum’s Ethics and Archiving the Web conference in March 2018. The conference is being planned in collaboration with the Documenting the Now project at the University of California at Riverside Library and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. The conference is organized by Rhizome’s artistic director Michael Connor, with Aria Dean, assistant curator of Net art and digital culture at Rhizome.