Archival Paper is meant to last at least 100 years. With proper care it can last up to a thousand. But what if the way we made and looked at paper was constantly changing? What if, in ten years, the technology required to view your drawing was no longer available? That's the problem numerous institutions face when grappling with the question of how to preserve or restore digital artworks. With web-based art, for instance, you're lucky if the piece lasts a decade.
The New York Times takes a brief but fascinating look at this problem:
When Artworks Crash: Restorers Face Digital Test
Paintings fade; sculptures chip. Art restorers have long known how to repair those material flaws, so the experience of looking at a Vermeer or a Rodin remains basically unchanged over time. But when creativity is computerized, the art isn’t so easy to fix.
These are issues I've dealt with — and continue to deal with regularly — in my career as a systems administrator. And there are no easy answers. As technology matures there will certainly be casualties. How we deal with these issues is a vexing but fascinating problem to someone like me with feet in both the technological and art worlds.