Earlier today, Rhizome announced that it has received a $1 million award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The award will be used to further develop the art organization’s Webrecorder, an ongoing project in developing an open-source program that creates and shares high-fidelity, interactive archival copies of websites past and present. (A preliminary version of the software is already available on their website.)
In a phone interview with Hyperallergic earlier today, Rhizome executive director Zachary Kaplan said that the organization was “fortunate to have a champion in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,” which had previously awarded Rhizome $600,000 in 2016, allowing them to begin building Webrecorder in the first place. “The amounts of money we’re dealing with feel extraordinary, and they are extraordinary, but the cost of developing software is an expensive proposition,” Kaplan added. “We’re in a unique position as a small cultural organization making free, open source software.”
Kaplan noted that Rhizome already works with some very talented developers, so their costs are quite high, not to mention all of the side projects and constituent elements. He said Rhizome will use the award for hiring more developers and staff to work on Webrecorder for the next two years. “These are nascent practices,” he added, “especially in museums, collection, and archives. Preserving web-based content is what Rhizome has been concerned with since the very beginning. We are excited!”
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