Could technology fast-track your organization to success?
This week on ArtEvolve we were joined by Kelani Nichole, Founder of Transfer; Brendan Ciecko, Founder of Cuseum; and Annika Erikson, Founder of Articheck. Our three speakers shared their insights into technology and how institutions can use it to help resolve some of the biggest challenges in the art world today.
It’s slow progress in the art world…
In the museum environment, there was once only a CMS, Microsoft Word, and email, with most processes still happening on paper. While we have seen a slow uptick in the use of technology, we’ve also seen this turn into a ‘hodgepodge’ of customized systems that cannot be updated and, put simply, fail to keep up with the technology being used in other sectors.
Rather than always being behind the curve, could museums instead be early adopters of tech? Turning to agile, niche technologies that they can constantly tweak according to changing customer needs?
…but change is happening!
If we think back to 10 years ago, directors of museums weren’t on their mobile phones all the time, using them as a work tool – and they certainly didn’t have Instagram accounts. Now, mobile technology is a normal part of our lives and we communicate on digital platforms multiple times a day. ‘Digital strategy’ is now just ‘strategy’ and, though the art world is still behind other sectors, it is becoming more and more open to the idea of using new tools and technologies in its processes.
Changing metrics for success
A generation ago, museum prestige was based on its permanent collection. Now, it’s based on blockbuster exhibitions and visitor numbers. (See Maxwell Anderson’s essay, Metrics of Success in Art Museums). Could this because it is easier to track and measure this kind of data?
Technology makes it easier to measure more metrics than ever before, but in the context of our changing society, museums, galleries and other art institutions must go beyond that. The art world must change the way it thinks about serving society and commit to ethical Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG).
Metrics for the modern era
- Digital engagement: website views, clicks, impressions, social media follows, and other statistics are easily measurable and, importantly, non-manipulatable.
- Online Viewing Room stats: with physical visitor numbers are no longer applicable in some cases, we’ll see an increase in OVR’s and, therefore, the measuring of how long people spend in virtual spaces, and what they click on during that time.
- Sustainability: not just carbon footprint as an abstract, hard to understand number but clear detail about the ecological goals of an institution, e.g. spending commitments for climate control, carbon, water and monetary savings due to green protocols, etc.
- Social values: transparently showing the impact art institutions have on the world around them. From fair wages, job security, and diverse hiring practices to ethical funding, community building, and broader, more inclusive access to art.
Using technology to solve challenges
- Unlocking the power of data. Art institutions are sitting on a wealth of data about their constituents and their collections, often too much data for one person, or even a team of people to make sense of. Technology can be used to analyze that data and reach valuable, actionable insights. (See our previous webinar on Understanding Preventative Collection Care for more info).
- Museum and gallery experiences. From ‘digital docent’ apps like Cuseum to exhibitions of computer-based/digital artwork at galleries like Transfer, not forgetting the inclusion of mixed and virtual reality.
- Lost, stolen, and looted art. The rapid sharing of images is now commonplace in society and has assisted the location and physical recovery of lost artworks. Tools like virtual reality and 3D printing also present the art world with new opportunities to reproduce tell the story of missing objects.
Technology has sparked important conversations in the art world, but institutions must be cognizant not to try and use it as a band-aid for issues that are complex and intertwined. To solve problems, they must examine why they have occurred in the first place, analyzing the social, environmental, and economic factors already in place.