2021 In Review: What Has The Art World Learned (Recording + Highlights)


In our first ArtEvolve after the festive break, we reviewed what happened in the art world in 2021.

While 2020 was the year of the ‘unprecedented’, in 2021 we got used to the idea of adapting to changing circumstances, so though it was still a year full of challenges, hopefully we were better prepared to deal with them.


We started with a poll to find out which topics our audience focused on in 2021.

Results of an ArtEvolve webinar poll showing that the pandemic was a big focus for art organizations in 2020.



Innovative Art Technologies

How art organizations are using technology was, probably unsurprisingly, a key topic of ArtEvolve throughout the year. In January, Matthew Ager of Tomorrow Contemporary shared with us how his company uses 3D scanning to digitally capture objects and artworks. This kind of technology has mostly been developed outside of the art industry but has lots of potential art world uses including virtual gallery tours, digitizing collections, and facilitating sales.

Later in the year, we were joined by Curtis McConnell, of Authentify Art, and Professor Maurizio Seracini to discuss how technology is changing authentication in art. They identified numerous issues that technology can help to address, such as lack of transparency, money laundering, and price manipulation.




Organization Technologies

As well as how organizations use tech to interact with art, we also spoke about how organizations can use technology to improve their own processes and protocols. Mackenzie’s SEO Masterclass is a great starting point for any art organization looking to improve its online visibility while the Art of Crowdfunding shone a light on how museums and galleries can use new ways of fundraising for exhibitions, conservation and collection care projects, and more.

Abián Zaya and Paloma Aransay from ITGallery also talked to us about APIs and how they can help save time and stop data becoming siloed and inaccessible. This can be applied to the art world in a number of ways, for example, connecting your collection database to new tools, making your database more accessible, and even adding payment tools.


Shipping and art movement

Though travel restrictions eased in 2021, the art world started to think about shipping differently.

In our Making Art Fair Shipping Sustainable webinar, we were joined by guests from all corners of the art world. We looked at sea freight shipping, which uses around 95% less carbon than air freight, and talked about how this can be more easily adopted thanks to new guidelines created by AXA XL Art and incorporated into Virtual Courier.

John Robinette also made a very convincing case for bookend couriers and the benefits these specialists bring to a project. We discovered 35% of our audience had already used a bookend courier and talked of the importance of implementing intelligent policies to determine exactly how pieces should be moved and with what type of courier.




A big focus of 2020, sustainability continued to be a key theme of ArtEvolve in 2021. Keith Esarey and Sam Anderson shared data and insights from their important study into how to reduce carbon and energy costs in museum buildings – spoiler: it’s easier than you think – while James Quirk from Queen’s Fine Art gave practical, actionable advice on how to calculate your organization’s environmental footprint.

As COP26 wrapped up in Glasgow, we delved into how the art world must build on momentum and make sure ‘build back better’ is more than an empty slogan. With that goal in mind, Articheck and DACS published a joint briefing outlining six actions the cultural sector can take to help make our institutions more sustainable.


E-Commerce and the Art Market

Frank McDermott, Founder and CEO of Caravan, discussed how the art world must demystify itself to connect with new audiences and build an engaged community in order to sell art online. He stressed the importance of using data to inform decisions and shared his five key tenets of successful e-commerce.

We also explored new ways to buy, sell, and enjoy art. Will Jarvis of Gertrude, Julian Siegelmann of Parlor, and Paul Becker of Art Money, shared how their organizations break down barriers for buyers with new business models including rent to buy and payment plans.


Professional Art Community/Networking

Sharing advice from innovative pioneers is one of the primary objectives of ArtEvolve. From Artsystems’ Doug Milford, who recounted his experiences of 40 years in the fine art industry, to Karline Moeller, who shared her insights into post-pandemic hiring, we’ve learned so much from the professional art community. Louise Hamlin and Deborah Najar Jossa, who started Art Mavens, explained why making meaningful connections online is vital for the success of the art world and we couldn’t agree more.



We look forward to seeing you at more ArtEvolve events in 2022!