The Mail Art – archive, founded in 1996, established a new, for museums up to date unusual collection area.
Mail Art as a democratic, spontaneously and actively respondent to current affairs art form, first emerged in the 1960s in the USA and was soon practised in Europe as well.
Mail Art does not refer to the personal correspondence between two individuals but the communication with art about specifically announced projects. The topics face up to common vital issues, enunciate critical awareness for dealing with nature as well as they claim human fundamental rights such as freedom and democracy, and take up positions of the modern art.
The slogan no fee, no jury, no return does not allow any restrictions on content and form of expression. Both artists and laymen have worked in the Mail Art network. Based on the mail system Mail Art has been one of the first international networks, prior the internet, which has made possible the global exchange of thoughts and art. Until 1989 it also functioned as subversive underground communication- and informationsystem. For Eastern European artists it has been of particular importance since it allowed them to emerge from isolation, to establish global contacts and to participate in the international art scene. Particular media of expression such as stamp-art, the artist stamp, the designed envelope, the postcard, the poster and alternative publications like assemblings have evolved with the Mail Art.
The Schwerin Collection with its approximately 30.000 objects including Mail Art works, postcards, catalogues, poster, invitations, magazines, gallery programmes, newspaper articles, correspondences and Mail Art projects is based on Joseph W. Huber’s Mail Art archive who was active in the Mail Art network since the early 1970s.
Furthermore Dietrich Schneider’s archive was added as a donation. Donations and systematic acquisitions have led to the profiling of the collection which main focus is on the Eastern European Mail Art scene.