Many of our Argus clients are feeling inspired by the achievements of Thomas P. Campbell, director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, who among many things, is an advocate for digitizing museum content and publishing online exhibits.
As the ninth Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mr. Campbell focuses on accessibility, including (per TED’s biography of him) exploration of “the judicious use of technology.” As part of overcoming the budgetary challenges caused by the recession of 2008, Dr. Campbell oversaw a website redesign, which, as of 2012, attracted more than 50 million digital visits per year.
The fabric of learning
In his TED talk, “Weaving Narratives in Museum Galleries,” Dr. Campbell, who is a textiles expert, discusses the characteristics of tapestries—as “vast canvases” on which events were depicted. They were portable—you could roll them up, send them ahead of you, and use them to “transform an interior.” Per Campbell, they were also hugely expensive, required scores of highly trained weavers, and used hugely expensive materials. In a time where visual images of any kind were rare, they often existed as a “highly potent form of propaganda” when sponsored by the wealthy and famous.
Everything old is new again
Looked at today, as when they were first created, tapestries offer “multiple narratives” and draw the audience in …they are designed to offer an experience, and to allow onlookers to explore a story or a concept.
Museums without the scale and resources of the Metropolitan Museum of Art can offer an analogous experience through an exciting, inspiring and visually compelling Web presence, using a purpose-built collections management solution like Argus. Unlike a tapestry, such a system isn’t hugely expensive and doesn’t require scores of highly trained experts. Museum staff can easily configure it without the help of the IT department, or third party developers, to offer immersive moments where objects are, as Dr. Campbell espouses, presented “in the context of a well-told narrative.”
Visitor numbers indicate that digital media is not replacing the museum, but as a “huge advocate of the Web,” Dr. Campbell is aware of its power to attract. We believe that a well-considered and implemented website can offer a powerful curated museum experience, with the promise of further delights and instruction to come.
Per Dr. Campbell, the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum is one of the “great portals of the world.” As we say, forward-thinking museum leaders can leverage Argus to open the doors of their museums to the world in a different but equally important sense.
If museums can just financially-survive COVID-19 there is a tremendous opportunity to get incredible digital collections management platforms.
Museums face challenges in DEAI, grant funding, and ethical labor practices. COVID-19 helped push elements of these priorities to the forefront.
Museum Collections Management System (CMS) choices depend on your end goal, what tools you need to get there, and how big your budget is.
Digital museum collections work and the CMS tools we use are more essential now than ever; this will likely remain true post-pandemic.