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How galleries are learning to restore digital art

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Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art

As modern art galleries expand their collections to include digital exhibits, restorers are being forced to learn increasingly complex techniques to maintain them. Unlike paintings, where teams of experts match colors and use old brush techniques to touch up a decaying piece, digital art and the technology used to create it often becomes obsolete over time. This was the challenge faced by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York when it became one of the first institutions to acquire a web-based artwork — The World’s First Collaborative Sentence by Douglas Davis. The New York Times chronicles the challenges faced by the Whitney, detailing how it took more than a year to piece together the 200,000 comments that formed the exhibit in 1995, and the challenges it faces to preserve digital art as the public becomes more acquainted with new technology.