A Photographer’s Legacy: The Archive of Xavier Miserachs

Autorretrat-Xavier-MiserachsWhen the Catalan photographer Xavier Miserachs (Barcelona, 1937) passed away, in 1998, he left behind almost fifty years of professional practice, and an archive of over 80.000 photographic negatives. In 2010, it was my role to start a conversation with Miserachs’s heirs, previously approached through MACBA advisors, so as to draft a plan with a view to drafting a plan by which the photographer’s archive of negatives could be lent to the Museum’s Study Center on a long term basis. It was required that this plan would successfully combine the archive owners’ private interests and the museum’s public services, such as accessibility to the archive materials, availability for research, effective dissemination of the archive’s contents, etc.

The agreement resulting from these conversations was signed by MACBA and the Miserachs family at the beginning of 2011, after which the photographer’s family transferred to the institution Miserachs’s entire archive, including not just the negatives but also the photographer’s notebooks, contracts, invoices, correspondence… as well as the collection of photobooks and books about photography that had belonged to his library.

This agreement was the first of its kind in the context of Spanish contemporary art museums. At the time, it attracted quite a lot of attention, because it succeeded in satisfying private interests and public concerns at the same time, and also because it established dissemination methods hitherto never used for such an archive, such as the publication of a wide selection of Miserachs’s shots through Flickr, and the permission to circulate some of his best-known photographs under a Creative Commons License.

More info about Xavier Miserachs here.