The VDB operates a number of programs that support its mission:

Archive, Preservation, and Digitization
Public Programs


VDB’s collection represents contemporary culture and artistic excellence in the use of the video medium. It is made available to museums and galleries, educators, cultural institutions and their audiences through an extensive international distribution program. VDB works to develop audiences for artists' video and media art, and to make titles from the collection available and accessible through a far-reaching promotional strategy.

A variety of licenses are extended to those wishing to exhibit video art titles from the collection, including rental and purchase licenses for classroom, library, gallery, museum, cultural center, and cinema screenings. We provide titles for rental and the education market on DVD, Blu-Ray, and high-quality .H264 digital files, and archival quality 10-bit uncompressed digital files for purchasing institutions such as museums, galleries, and private collectors.

In contrast to the gallery model of the "limited edition", titles from VDB’s collection are made available in unlimited editions; there is no limit to the number of copies that VDB can distribute from a title held in the archive. VDB operates this model in order that access to the artwork can be increased, and that the artists' work can be viewed and studied widely. It is relatively inexpensive to rent or purchase work from the VDB collection, and more than half of all income generated is passed directly to the artists' in the form of artist royalty payments. Artists also receive detailed screening records, and the exposure from screenings and exhibitions of their work can result in significant opportunities for career enhancement.

VDB tape archive

Archive, Preservation, and Digitization

Videotape is a fragile medium, subject to picture and sound quality loss and degradation; many of the tapes that form the VDB tape archive are unique and irreplaceable. VDB is committed to safeguarding the history of the video art form, and since the mid-1980s has worked to preserve important video art works to more durable archival quality formats, either in house, or in collaboration with experts in the field.  VDB’s original tape collection is housed in an extensive onsite archive, containing thousands of original artist masters on dozens of formats, including one-inch open reel, half-inch open reel, ¾-inch U-matic tape, Betacam SP, Mini DV, Digital Betacam, DV, and HD Cam. All masters and sub-masters contained in the tape collection are professionally cataloged and stored in a temperature-controlled, low-humidity environment.

We are committed to ensuring that access to the collection is assured for future generations, and that it remains viable within the rapidly changing technological landscape. In 2010, VDB began the important process of digitally preserving videotapes from the archive.  This process took place primarily in house, and VDB was able to digitize both black and white and color ½” open reel tapes on decks that were refurbished specifically for the digitization process.  By 2016, digitization of the entire in-distribution collection of more than 6,000 tapes was completed. This process involves converting analog master tapes to lossless digital files, which are then stored and backed up on a combination of hard drives and LTO tape.  Not only does this essential work allow us to supply customers with digital files for screenings and exhibitions, but it also ensures these works will be available to future generations by preserving them in lossless formats that can be duplicated and stored at multiple locations. 


Radical Closure Book

In addition to single titles, the VDB has been a leader in producing Box Sets and Compilations, featuring single and multiple artists, as well as themed and curated programs. The Box Sets and Compilations enable VDB to provide audiences with a comprehensive overview of an artist's video work, or a succinct study of a particular theme or cultural movement.

The VDB commissions essays to accompany these programs, written by a wide range of scholars and media arts commentators, which serve to contextualize the work within a wider artistic framework, making them essential pedagogical tools for those working in media arts education. To date essays have been published by:

Public Programs

Next Fair 2010 VDB Booth

Throughout its history, VDB has been deeply involved in the visual and moving-image arts community both nationally and internationally, regularly collaborating with festivals, cultural centers, and museums worldwide that support our mission to increase the visibility and understanding of video art and artists.  VDB regularly participates in activities and events to further knowledge of video art and its collection, including:

  • Panels and discussions
  • Juries and panels 
  • Talks and presentations 
  • Field wide symposia and conferences
  • Festival screenings 
  • Art fairs

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In 2023, VDB began the ongoing screening series Roundabout in which VDB invites fellow moving image archives and distributors to collaborate on a conversational program of short experimental works with a prompt to respond to a selection of works from VDB's collection with a selection from their own. 

Since 2001, VDB has been a proud co-sponsor of Conversations at the Edge, a program of the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department at SAIC, whose programming augments and extends the school’s renowned interdisciplinary curriculum, providing students and the larger public with meaningful connections to diverse practices and practitioners. Programming takes place at the Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago, and to date, VDB has brought over forty groundbreaking video and media artists to join the SAIC and wider Chicago moving-image community.