Budgets for acquiring computer artworks will vary widely, and will include the purchase price of the artwork and any necessary software or hardware. Insuring the longevity of an artwork over time is one of the most critical concerns for collecting computer-based art, and media art in general. A collector should take a few issues under consideration, and budget their resources accordingly. This can involve investing in or stockpiling equipment (including hardware and software), acquiring archival-quality masters of the work, hiring expert technicians for the maintenance and installation of the work, and even setting aside funds for the migration of the work to current digital standards. As always, it is advisable to talk to the artist and their representatives in order to insure that you have everything necessary to present and preserve the works as the artist originally intended.

Acquisition Fee

What is the sale price of the installation? Does the purchase include archival media submasters and viewing copies, playback and display equipment?


Make sure that you understand and have budgeted for the equipment elements you will need to acquire independent from the acquisition. If there is equipment specific to the work that is being phased out of production, consider stockpiling. Budget for repairs and upgrades that may be necessary in the future.

Shipping & Installation Fees

If not included with the purchase price, what will be the cost of crating and shipping? Will the work be installed immediately? Do the installation guidelines result in additional costs such as building a discrete viewing space, carpeting, and soundproofing?

Technical Support

Computer-based works may require a skilled technician to install the work properly. The artist or artist's representative can often recommend an experienced technician who is familiar with the work and who can be hired to assist in the installation and planning and provide technical support as needed.

Maintenance & Preservation

Anticipating the preservation needs of the computer-based works in your collection is an important part of any acquisition budget. Preservation costs, which may include re-mastering, upgrading, and migration, are determined by variables such as the original code and application employed at the time of creation and future upgrades required to keep the work viable. Review these variables in consultation with the artist or artist's representative at the time of acquisition. The Preservation section of this Guide identifies the costs related to the maintenance and conservation of computer-based works.