Curation Power: Give it All You’ve Got, Just Like the CU Art Museum

March 16, 2015

There is always a wealth of information related to any single artifact in a museum or archive collection, and curators know that providing supporting materials to researchers, authors, students and faculty is critical to expanding knowledge. The Colorado University Art Museum is leveraging technology to share important resources relating to single objects and to structure collections of related artifacts to enrich the museum visitor’s experience, whether in person or virtual. <

The mission of the CU Art Museum of the University of Colorado, Boulder is “to explore the transformative power of art and inspire critical dialogue.” Over the past ten years, the Museum’s comprehensive art collection, which documents over three thousand years of human civilization around the world, grew significantly. The database used to manage it (accessible only to three staff members) simply couldn’t keep up with the challenge. Museum staff selected Argus to support their major goals of:

  • Promoting public portal access
  • Providing users with more in-depth documentation
  • Enhancing productivity through more efficient workflow and minimal training requirements
  • Adaptability and ease of customization
  • Sustainability and ongoing relevance as the Museum’s collection and requirements grow

Argus demonstrates CUAM’s commitment to innovative use of technology while meeting all the explicit goals for operational efficiency, strategy and technology. The system has delivered many other benefits as well – benefits that allow the Museum staff to enhance their integration with faculty, students and the community at large, and to increase their relevance to the University and its academic programs.

For example, Museum staff can now upload documents associated with each object – all kinds of supporting materials now provide content in context: legal documents, label copy, articles, etc. This not only benefits faculty, staff, and students, it benefits people outside the CUAM community because they can browse collections of objects they might not otherwise know are owned by the Museum. A simple yet powerful “What’s On View” button on the public portal offers virtual visitors examples of what they will see when they visit CUAM, and this encourages interest in newly installed art.

Enhanced curation along with significantly expanded outreach and access via the Web enriches the educational experience of students, faculty, the broader campus community, and regional audiences. To learn more, read our case study on the University of Colorado at Boulder CU Art Museum.

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