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The fate of the estates (Nachlässe) of visual artists are as varied as the fortunes of the artists themselves.2 It is only the well-known, high value artists with considerable resources who have the means to create their own museum or archive.3 Yet the storage and preservation of the vast remains of artists' estates is an increasingly urgent matter. Artist output has dramatically increased since the middle of the 20th century, as has the awareness of the importance of artists bequests. Artists have often taken matters into their own hands while they are still living. More often though, it is the heirs to an estate who are faced with the task after the artist's death. The immediate family (widow, widower, children) understand the importance of the work and feel a sense of obligation. But the second generation (grandchildren) questions what to do with “all this stuff”? Often the heirs do not have the expertise, understandably, and are overwhelmed by the financial and other costs of appropriate storage for the permanent preservation of the material.4 How to professionally accommodate, develop and make such collections accessible? In the following, several models for the handling and storage of artist estates are presented, with specific reference to the issues of sifting, recording and selection.
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