Through collecting and making information on the recent history of contemporary art in Asia easily accessible, Asia Art Archive aims to facilitate understanding, research, and writing in the field, enrich existing global narratives, and re-imagine the role of the archive. AAA is a point of convergence for critical thinking and dialogue and a proactive platform for diverse public, educational, and residential programmes for a wide range of audiences. At the core of its mission is AAA's commitment to create a collection belonging to the public, existing not in an enclosed space, but in a space that is open and productive, generating new ideas and works that continually reshape the Archive itself.
AAA was initiated in 2000 in response to the urgent need to document and secure the multiple recent histories of contemporary art in the region. With an international Board of Directors, an Advisory Board made up of noted curators and critics, and research posts in the region, AAA has collated one of the most valuable collections of material on contemporary art in the region. Built of 80% donated material, the collection now holds over 41,000 records, comprised of hundreds of thousands of physical and digital items, and it continues to grow. Accessible free of charge from AAA's physical space and searchable from anywhere in the world via the online catalogue, much of the collection is now also available globally via the Collection Online.
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 world's leading public collections of primary and secondary source material about contemporary art in Asia. AAA fills a crucial role by preserving documentation about the field and activates 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.
Accessibility to the Archive is fundamental to AAA's vision. As we consider the future of the collection, our energies are focused on opening the Archive, on building up areas of specialisation, increasing digital access to the information in our collection, and fostering individual connections to the material.
With the launch of the Collection Online, AAA is able to offer online access to the digital material in its collection. In addition to scanned images, correspondences, artists’ personal documents, and streaming audio and video of performance art, artist talks, lectures, and other art events, three Special Collections are currently available online, including 'Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art From 1980-1990'; 'The Chabet Archive'; and 'Another Life: The Digitised Personal Archive of Geeta Kapur and Vivan Sundaram.'
AAA has evolved into a platform that offers the tools to enrich and complicate the way in which the region's art histories are told, and at the same time, challenge dominant global art historical narratives. Through the regular initiation of public programmes - including talks, workshops, symposia, screenings, and residencies - AAA endeavours to be proactive in instigating dialogue and critical thinking, and in introducing as wide an audience as possible to this rich resource.
Research+ is the platform from which AAA conducts research, produces publications and online projects, initiates exhibitions related to its research, and instigates critical thinking and dialogue about contemporary art in Asia. Research+ works closely with the rest of AAA’s team to organise residencies and discursive programmes, including symposia, workshops, artist talks, and lectures.
AAA's Research team is made up of Archive staff in Hong Kong with research posts throughout the region. The team drives the Archive's collection development through a variety of research activities ranging from the documentation of key events and exhibitions and identification of rare materials to the production of in-depth interviews and the initiation of specific research projects.
AAA’s Learning & Participation programme was established in 2007 to introduce the Archive to new audiences, beyond professionals in the field, and to provide a platform for learning and teaching contemporary art. Through creative, free, and engaging programmes, AAA aims to provide the public with the tools and experiences to simultaneously consider and rethink the role of art in contemporary society and integrate it into their everyday lives.
The Archive offers a range of programmes for educators, youth and young adults, and other members in the community, with the goal of becoming the definitive arts resource and library for the Hong Kong public, particularly educators and students.
AAA is led by a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board. The Board of Directors is comprised of appointed members drawn from art and business sectors both inside and outside Hong Kong. The Board jointly supports the Executive Director and oversees the strategic direction and financial status of the organisation. Currently there are 14 members on the board, chaired by Jane DeBevoise.
AAA's Advisory Board is composed of 38 noted curators and critics from around the world. Advisors provide guidance in developing the potential and possibility of AAA's collection, and assist in promoting the growing research interest in art from Asia.
As a non-profit organisation and registered charity in Hong Kong, AAA receives grants and donations from a number of different sources, including government agencies, foundations, corporations, and individuals. AAA's Annual Fundraiser - a dinner and auction of donated artworks - is another important source of funding, demonstrating support of its activities from the art community. AAA also receives funding from sponsorships in-kind and its patron programmes.