Digital Security & Infrastracture for Arts Organizations - Baseline Considerations

Over the past decade, digital security and infrastructure have arrived at the forefront of the minds of organizations both small and large. In an increasingly digital business world organizations must remain vigilant in protecting the volumes of data they collect. This article examines the baseline considerations for Arts Organizations in relation to managing and protecting both business and patron-side data. 

Who’s Afraid of Modern Art?

"Who's afraid of modern art?“ – with this question, students begin their guided journey through the Städel Museum`s new online course. The oldest museum foundation in Germany is celebrating their 200th birthday by redefining their communication strategy to fit the digital age. Part of this change is the implementation of an online art history course and more recently a virtual reality tour of the museum in the 19th century. This course is an addition to the museum new offerings, like a digitorial, a digital catalogue that informs you about the current exhibition or an online audio tour.

AMT Lab contributor Seggen Mikael sat down with Chantal Eschenfelder, Head oft he Educational Department, and Axel Braun, Head of PR and Online Communication, to discuss the online course`s implementation and success, as well as the Städel Museum’s other offerings in their digital revolution.

The Giving Pledge: A Start to Engage Tech Philanthropy

To understand why arts organizations have struggled to capture funds from tech billionaires, arts managers and development professionals would do well to recognize what philanthropic sectors they are losing these dollars to, and why.  Armed with these insights, arts professionals can then adjust their strategies to better appeal to this new and growing donor segment.

Silicon Struggle: The Battle for The Bay Area Arts' Scene

If you told the average San Francisco resident 40 years ago that the art scene in the Bay Area would be gasping for life in 2015, they probably would have laughed in your face.  But it is 2015, and that is the reality we are facing.  The tech giants have moved in, and  tension is building between the Silicon Valley community and its non-profit entities.  In particular, arts organizations seem to be at an extreme disadvantage for a few reasons:

Research Update: Security and the Cloud

When it comes to the cloud, security is a widespread concern across sectors. According to a recent survey, conducted by Lockheed Martin and the Cyber Security Alliance, security was listed as the top concern by Government IT decision makers, despite overall increasing adoption of cloud technology. Security is a multifaceted issue, ranging from the above example concerning what rights are retained when information is uploaded to the cloud, to more classical issues involving data theft. The basic fact is that when organizations take their data into the cloud they are ceding day-to-day control of that data. Though they can access it and share it at will, they typically will have no idea in which physical datacenter, or even in which country, their files are currently stored. Users must rely on the provider to not just manage their data responsibly, and to prevent loss of their data through hardware failure, but to keep their data encrypted and inaccessible to unauthorized users.

Engaging Technology: uCurate and uExplore at the Clark

What’s going on at the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts? Let’s see, there are iPads, tablets, interactive digital programs, touchscreens and kiosks throughout the galleries, the new exhibition, Clark Remix, and oh yes, new curators- YOU. In a February press release, the Clark announced its exciting new initiative to encourage visitor interaction and participation in its galleries. According to the press release, Clark Remix is "a dynamic salon-style installation featuring some 80 paintings, 20 sculptures, and 300 of the institute’s finest examples of decorative arts."

As part of the exhibit, the Clark has introduced the interactive, digital programs uExplore and uCurate. Both programs are accessible online, on the visitor’s own personal device, on touchscreens and kiosks throughout the gallery and on iPads and tablets provided by the Clark for use in the museum. Basically, the programs are EXTREMELY accessible and user friendly- I myself have spent all afternoon here in Pittsburgh exploring the Clark’s collection and building my own exhibition, instead of reading for class (ahh priorities).

The Director of the Clark, Michael Conforti explains the premise of Clark Remix,

Clark Remix represents one of many programs that the Clark is developing to engage audiences in exciting ways. Clark Remix allows us to present our permanent collection in an installation that is both beautiful and innovative. Our salon-style presentation provides a very different and intriguing perspective on many of the works that have become familiar favorites for Clark visitors. Adding virtual components to the exhibition allows us to reach new audiences and invite them to discover and interact with our collection.

It works like this. uExplore allows the visitor to learn more about the Clark’s collection in a visually stimulating, highly organized, and digitally oriented way. Items are grouped into categories (paintings, sculpture, glass silver and ceramics) to allow the user to navigate with ease through the extensive collection. Selecting an image of the desired object, a more detailed, but not overwhelming, explanation of the item becomes available. When appropriate, audio and video clips accompany the information.

It is a beautifully designed and easily navigable interface. uExplore’s presence in the gallery encourages visitors to delve more deeply into the history of the collection, while they are on-site.

The second digital application to accompany the exhibit, uCurate, gives visitors the opportunity to participate in the curatorial process. As the name implies, YOU, aka the visitor, plan and design a 3D virtual exhibition with the Clark’s collection. The participant makes all decisions, from what to include and how to arrange

the objects, to wall color selection and wall text. Users of the program have the option to submit their designs for consideration by Clark’s curatorial team AND to share their designs through social media channels (promoting the museum and the digital program). Submissions to the Clark will be reviewed regularly. Why submit your design for professional review by Clark curators? Because if selected, the virtual design will be transformed into an actual exhibition! The lucky designers will be invited to assist in their exhibition’s installation, in the decision-making process, in the creation of wall text and in writing the curator’s statement.

uCurate and uExplore were designed by the Clark in collaboration with Swim Design Consultants and Virtual Gallerie to afford the public a voice and role in the museum’s exhibition planning process. Allowing the public to suggest actual designs for implementation challenges what has been the accepted and traditional decision-making process in the museum. That is, all decisions are made internally; the public only receives, not contributes. But the Clark is trying something different. In a recent New York Times' article on the Clark’s innovative crowd-sourcing approach, Conforti said,

For generations, curators ran the show and told you what to believe. In a world of blogging and Wikipedia, we realized that we can learn from our audience, and from multiple interpretations.

This is Museum 2.0 in action. Where visitors become users and museums become, as Nina Simon explains, “dynamic platforms for content generation and sharing.”

So Kudos to you, Clark Museum. This is an engaging and relevant use of technology where the user AND museum win.