Terri Smith

November 13, 3:00 AM–12:00 PM

The Digital and analog materials from Franklin Street Works’ nine years of cutting-edge, contemporary art exhibitions and programs will be available to students and scholars through the Purchase College Library archive. This project was made possible thanks to funds from the Connecticut Humanities and partnerships with Purchase College Library, the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County, and CT Digital Archive.

Franklin Street Works has found a home for its archive at Purchase College Library. Thanks in part to a $10,000 Connecticut Humanities (CTH) capacity grant, the Franklin Street Works archive committee was able to organize and label analog and digital materials from the nonprofit’s 34 critically-recognized exhibitions and 130 accompanying public programs. For nine years, Franklin Street Works was a leading cultural destination and contemporary art resource for Fairfield County Connecticut and beyond.

By archiving digital and analog documentation of the space’s original exhibitions, museum-quality interpretive texts, commissioned projects, and thought-provoking programming, Franklin Street Works will preserve its legacy. Purchase College Library—at Purchase College, SUNY, located fifteen miles from Stamford—will become the archive’s permanent home, accessioning the analog and digital collections.

“The archives of small art spaces like Franklin Street Works are important to preserve,” says Terri C Smith, Franklin Street Works’ founding Creative Director. “Most large museums show artists later in their trajectory. Alternative art spaces like FSW are more likely to exhibit artists early in their careers and are often the first to tackle topical issues of the day. These smaller art spaces take risks often not afforded prominent museums and—especially for academics, curators, and artists looking into those histories—provide an on-the-ground, real-time sense of how contemporary art practices unfolded during a specific era.”

Franklin Street Works’ exhibitions were critically recognized with positive reviews in publications such as Artforum, Art in America, Hyperallergic, and the HuffPost. The organization was also awarded competitive grants, including two, multi-year grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts. Despite this critical success, Franklin Street Works, like so many other small galleries and nonprofits, permanently closed in 2020 due to financial pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ensuring public access to arts, culture, and the humanities is a funding priority for CT Humanities,” explains Dr. Jason Mancini, executive director at CTH. “While we are saddened by the closure of Franklin Street Works, we are happy to support this project that provides an enduring connection for people to critically-acclaimed content that provokes, challenges, educates, and inspires.”

Franklin Street Works’ archive is a treasure trove of conversations, interviews, and tours where many of the 415 exhibiting artists discuss their practices, including its content, influences, and materiality. Other documentation includes: images of the artists’ works in installation photographs and catalog checklists; commissioned printed takeaways; and commissioned performances by critically recognized artists such as Trisha Baga, David Horvitz, Juliana Huxtable, iele paloumpis, Aki Sasamoto, and Jenni(f)fer Tamayo. Many of Franklin Street Works’ exhibiting artists went on to have solo exhibitions or have works accessioned into permanent collections at highly visible institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum, the High Line, Sculpture Center, and the Museum of Modern Art.

The Connecticut Humanities capacity grant has ensured that future generations will have access to Franklin Street Works’ archive of exhibitions, educational programs, and ground-breaking practices of past exhibiting artists and curators. As a past collaborator who currently holds Franklin Street Works “Collective Action Archive” in their zine library, Purchase College’s contemporary art programs make them an ideal location for the archive. In addition to having robust studio art, art history, museum studies, and arts administration programs, Purchase College library is networked with SUNY’s database and Jstor.

In addition to finding a home in Purchase College Library, catalogs and installation photos will be uploaded to the Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA).

Special thanks to the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County for being the fiscal sponsor, which enabled the Franklin Street Works Archive advisory committee to apply for this grant funding.


Thank you to our Partners!

Connecticut Humanities

Connecticut Humanities (CTH) is an independent, non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. CTH connects people to the humanities through grants, partnerships, and collaborative programs. CTH projects, administration, and program development are supported by state and federal matching funds, community foundations, and gifts from private sources. Learn more by visiting

Purchase College Library

Purchase College Library’s mission is to support the teaching, learning, and research activities of the College’s students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community. The Library’s collections are a blend of digital and print resources, including more than 85,000 unique, full-text online journals, magazines, and newspapers, and more than 230,000 print volumes. The collections are particularly strong in the visual and performing arts and include an extensive collection of music scores and recordings.

The Special Collections and Archives—which will house Franklin Street Works’ archive and are available by appointment—feature: rare, out-of-print monographs and multi-volume sets; limited editions of seminal works in the fields of art, design, and photography; signed works of historical and political significance; and a teaching collection of artist books. Once processed, the Franklin Street Works collection will be accessible to students, faculty, and staff via appointment and will be used as an instructional tool particularly for the Museum Studies, Arts Management, and Gender Studies programs and departments. The Library’s Special Collections and Archives is also home to Franklin Street Works’ Collective Action Archives, which contains ephemera, documentation, and publications from more than 30 artist activist collectives from across the U.S. The acquisition of the Collective Action archives was facilitated by Franklin Street Works and the Purchase’s New Media department.

Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County:

The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County (CAFC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit network that operates as a regional cultural service organization serving 15 coastal Fairfield County towns, from Greenwich to Shelton. CAFC supports some 600 artist and nonprofit members with unified marketing, convening, capacity building, professional development, and advocacy services. For the public, it publishes and broadcasts FCBuzz Events, a free, comprehensive cultural calendar of opportunities across the region.

Connecticut Digital Archive

The CTDA is a community of members from across the State who believe that the stories and experiences of every person and group in Connecticut are important to all of us. The CTDA provides digital preservation and access services for more than 3.2 million digital resources held by more than 80 members, including Franklin Street Works.

Consulting Archivist

Kristin Eshelman is Archivist for Multimedia Collections at Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library, where she manages audiovisual, artists’ book and children’s literature collections. Ms. Eshelman has over 20 years of experience as a photo archivist and has held positions at the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona and the Kansas Collection and University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas. She is a graduate of Washington College (BA) and the University of Arizona (MLS).

FSW Archive Advisory Committee:

Natasha Kuranko, Sandrine Milet, Roger Neal, Tom O’Connor, Terri C Smith, and Bonnie Wattles.