The Swiss Art Archives have long roots dating back to the foundation of SIK-ISEA in 1951. The collection of documents on Swiss art that began at the time and has expanded continually reflects the research and documentation projects undertaken by the Institute. In the early decades, the fonds archives received major donations in the form of many posthumous papers from Ernst Stückelberg, Rudolf Koller and Augusto Giacometti.
The documentation was built up in the 1970s, in particular from press articles and exhibition records, and it was then merged with the archives of the Lexicon of Swiss Artists (1918–1967). By the year 2000, the partial estates of Otto Meyer-Amden, Reinhold Kündig, Max von Moos, Hans Fischli and Fritz Pauli had also arrived. The Archives have benefited from some valuable bequests in the 21st century: the posthumous papers of Aldo Walker, the letters of Karl Geiser, the correspondence of Giovanni Giacometti’s family, and letters and sketches by Otto Meyer-Amden from the family estate. The latest acquisitions include the Hodler archives belonging to Carl Albert Loosli, on permanent loan from the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Neuchâtel.