The Big Idea

DIY Archiving

Tools, guides and support for at-home archiving, with a special focus on fragile formats like film, photos, tape and paper. 

In Theory

We started PAI out of our experiences in trying to document our own creative work and collections - cultural archives that we never considered to be an "offical archive"  because it was just part of our lives, hanging on walls, stuffed away in boxes. Few of us gave much thought to proper preservation, even if we did save flyers, tickets and t-shirts. Over time, that "cultural ephemera" - has been lost in moves, mother's basements, and just the passage of time. Venues are gone, labels and studios are out of business; as people age, oral histories are forgotten or endangered.

As we spoke to more and more friends, peers and collectors, we realized a need for low-cost, easy to implement tools for at-home archiving, and supports and interventions for objects in danger due to age, expense or unstable environments. We also realized that the most important thing to capture are the stories, bits of detail, and inside information that can be lost even more easily. 

In Practice

We're working to create useful tools and supports that jump-start the preservation of a collection, especially film, tape and other fragile formats - and allow for self-cataloguing, identification and digitizing. Our plans include:

  • An App for photographing, logging, connecting and sharing items, collections and information, integrated with the Punk Archive's digital platforms;

  • DIY Archival Toolkits and guides for preservation and cataloging; 

  • Virtual and on-site support for identifying, curating and documenting individual items and whole collections;

  • Workshops, Artist-as-Archivist salons, talkbacks and learning events;

  • Guides and consults for Legacy Planning, managing sales and downsizing, and developing sustainability strategies and budgets for future-proofing.

  • Expanding our Fragile Formats program, providing low- and no-cost professional stabilization, repair and digitization of original tape, film and early digital media.

  • Helping collections at risk due to COVID-19 and other health crises, financial and home emergencies, relocation and downsizing, and other personal impacts. 


Many of these projects will roll out over 2021...but if you - as a collector, artist, estate or caretaker - need assistance now, we can help.


the tl;dr

Whether it's your stuff or stuff you wound up with, or have collected - chances are, you have need to figure out what you have, how to store it, how to fix it, how to digitize it and how to organize and secure it. If it's falling apart, on outmoded technology, or expensive to deal with, it's even more challenging. 

PAI is working to make all that easier, so you can manage your archives on your own - while at the same time, using a system that can help you add to a bigger network and repository of Punk archives around the country.


And, for fragile media - UMatic, Beta, cassette tapes, home movies, etc - we can help take care of that, too. 


Last Minor Threat show; art by Tomas Squip; Summerland Trust Collection


Sonic Youth promo shot, by Naomi Petersen, used by SST. Courtesy Chris Petersen for the Naomi Petersen Archive

Big Boys flyer, art by Randy Turner, found online.