Behind the image: the cultural significance of architectural drawings

Research Team: Christine Garnaut, Julie Collins and Susan Collins

Literature on the appraisal and management of architectural collections points to the need for a common, grounded approach to assessing the significance of architectural drawings. In the absence of a guiding rationale to determine which drawings to keep and which to discard, collecting institutions are faced with a dilemma, and potentially significant records are placed at risk. Adding to the problem is the fact that, due to the rise of Computer Aided Design (CAD), hand drawing has been superseded and, potentially, historical architectural drawings (i.e. hand drawn) may be regarded as valueless.

This project: examined the cultural significance (heritage value) of architectural drawings; devised a methodological approach to the assessment of the cultural significance of architectural drawings; and proposed preliminary guidelines for retention schedules for architectural drawings. The project team ran a workshop related to this project at In History We Trust, the 15th State History Conference, in May 2006.

Findings from the research are published as:

Collins, J., Collins, S. and Garnaut, C. (2007) Behind the image: Assessing architectural drawings as cultural records, Archives and Manuscripts, vol 35, no 2, pp.86-107

Funded by a University of South Australia, Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences Research Performance Fund Grant.