opening warhol


From 1974 until he died, Warhol squirrelled away the daily accumulations and detritus of his day in what he called time capsules. Over those final 13 years, he filled 570 cardboard boxes, 40 filing cabinets and one large trunk with the surface contents of his desk, leaving behind an archive that must rank as the most extensive collection of the incidentals of any artist. Another way to think of the Warhol time capsules would be as a giant, three-dimensional diary.

The collection is held at the Warhol museum in the old steel town where he was born and raised, Pittsburgh. The boxes are stored in air-controlled rooms, lined up neatly like funeral urns. Only 91 of the 611 capsules have been opened, and only 19 have been fully analysed and recorded.

The museum now has the chance to finish the job. It was recently awarded a $650,000 grant by the Andy Warhol Foundation to complete the digital cataloguing of the entire collection. Three full-time archivists will spend the next three years painstakingly opening up and going through all the remaining boxes.

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