In today''s economy, it takes significant funds to establish a high-performance image archival and retrieval system for any image application. One cost effective approach is to build the system in multiple phases but there is concern that technology is advancing rapidly and the original system may not be able to take advantage of new features. The concept of an open- architecture modular, flexible and expandable system is an essential element to achieving a high-performance image archival and retrieval system within a realistic short period of time. This paper introduces a proposal for a modular, flexible, and expandable image archival and retrieval open-architecture system to stimulate discussion and thinking. It will cover the following areas: (1) data archival and retrieval requirements such as storage capacity and data management, (2) data communication and distribution requirements using local area networks and/or wide area networks, (3) the architectural requirements such as adopting industry standards for hardware and software, and (4) an example of such open-architecture system to demonstrate the feasibility of implementing a modular, flexible, and expandable high- performance image archival and retrieval system.