Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA)
Taming Organizational Content: Museum Documents, Images, and Videos
The Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) has 54,000 works of art that span 5,000 years of history from across the worldʼs continents. It also has its own department of media and technology - IMA LAB - something that many museums do not have.
When the documents and content that flow through the day-to-day operations of the museum outgrew management by email and file shares, Charlie Moad, Director of the IMA LAB, stepped in to find a solution.
Like many organizations, IMA has relied on email to exchange information, content and documents for many years. The growing problem with document tracking and retrieval became all too apparent when they realized that it was easier to track information about an exhibit that took place 30 years ago than an exhibit from 2 years ago. The fact is that before the age of email, all documentation related to an exhibit was gathered, filed, and stored in physical archives. When email became the main mode of communication, document sharing was easier, faster, and more unstructured.
IMA uses file shares by department to store documents, but this system does not foster collaboration, and has outgrown its effectiveness in other ways. Search and retrieval of documents is difficult, and department-centric access spaces have, over time, generated siloed views of content. In addition, file shares are not accessible from outside of the museum.
Museum employees, including curators, people who plan public programs, horticulture staff who document the plantings used for landscape design, technical staff, and design departments needed an easy-to-use, collaborative way to access the growing volumes of content they interact with on a daily basis.
It was easier to retrieve information about an exhibit that took place 30 years ago (from physical files) than an exhibit that took place 2 years ago (from email). Nuxeo helped us gather our institutional knowledge in one place, so we could establish and maintain repeatable processes for running exhibits, on-boarding new employees, and for day-to-day museum operations.
-- Charlie Moad, Director IMA LAB
The IMA evaluated multiple solutions - mostly open source, but also some proprietary software - before selecting the Nuxeo Platform for their content management solution. Ease of use of the document management features was a key factor in the decision, as well as the abundance of out-of-the-box features such as workflow, relations between documents, and configurable metadata fields. Another important factor was the availability of a digital asset management module to handle the large volumes of images and video at the museum.
The IMA project for taming organizational content was built with the Document Management and Digital Asset Management (DAM) modules on the Nuxeo Platform. The system has mechanisms for relating documents, artists, photography, and other content directly to items in the collections, which are managed by a collections management system.
IMA plans to use this solution to track all of the content and processes at the museum, such as exhibition history, the artists represented by the collection, project documents, and other relevant artifacts. The goal is to click on a piece of artwork and have immediate access to all the knowledge there is about it, such as exhibitions, loans, photos, videos, and the artist.
With the DAM module, museum photography and videos, which have special requirements in terms of content management, can be captured with automated metadata extraction, viewed, rendered in different formats, annotated, and exported to other channels.
The greatest benefit that the IMA has reaped from the content management application is the simple ability to find content quickly and easily.
This is especially helpful when a new person is hired and needs access to past contracts, documents, photos and other content. In the past, when someone left the museum, their email account was deactivated and all of the file attachments that could help track the processes and knowledge of that person disappeared completely. The museum is now on track to move away from email for file management altogether.
More Innovations to Come
The end goal of this project is to bring all of the institutional knowledge to one place, so further enhancements of the content management solution revolve around making the content more meaningful, with tags and semantic data, and mapping all of the connections between items into the system. In addition, there will be an integration between Nuxeo and the IMA website.
The IMA has adopted research as a core mission, and they will also use Nuxeo to publish collective research, such as articles and talks, to the website. This integration will also allow them to publish images and videos of the collection, while maintaining centralized version control of all elements.
With this system in place, in 20 or 30 years, museum content, activities, and processes will be easily accessible, for both continuity and posterity.