It doesn’t take technical knowledge to put your art collection online.
Since 2020, when COVID made it impossible to access art collections online, the topic has been hot. Digital archiving, two years later, is still a vital tool for managing, preserving, and sharing artworks, artifacts, and documents in galleries, museums and libraries, as well as those archives. Many of us needed a kick in the pants to make our collections and processes available online with COVID.
No longer are institutions content with looking through files in their file cabinets or relying on the work of others. Nonprofits are keen to digitize their collections for their internal use and to make their collection more accessible to the general public.
To preserve and conserve our cultural heritage, we have also been forced to create digital archives due to increased natural disasters.
Digitizing your collection will ensure that your institution’s legacy and the artifacts of your artists are preserved for future generations.
To digitize your art collection, you don’t necessarily need to have technical training. You can work in IT or get a Masters’s degree in Library Science. You don’t even need to have a staff or a budget. It can be easy to bring your collection online with digital solutions. We’ve broken it down into simple steps.
These 9 tips will help you to improve your digital presence.
Tip #1 – Get a better understanding of
Before embarking on digitization projects, it is important to be aware of what you have.
Once you are clear about what you have, you can begin planning how you will digitize it.
This is an unexpected benefit to digitizing. Your 990 will be much more useful if you have a complete picture of your collection. It will help you understand the contents of your collection and give you a dollar amount.
Tip #2 – Decide which information is worth saving
Consider what you can save before you embark on your digitization journey. Here’s a list of things our clients often save in their online databases.
- Artwork & object details: Title, artist/creator, medium, size, creation date, price, etc.
- Documents (digitize your printed copies): Photos and transaction docs. Literature (i.e., exhibition catalogs), appraisals, condition reports
- Information about artist/maker: Includes bio, artist statement and website. Contact details are also available. Demographics
- Recordings & Uncommon Provenance: Consider timelapse videos, interviews with artists, social media posts and programmatic surveys.
Digital technology has given rise to new forms of provenance. The ways we create, buy, and document art change. We have new provenance types, such as email correspondence, video clips and social media posts. These are different from the traditional provenance types, like printed photos, written correspondence, and physical receipts.
Tip #3 – Do your research before you choose your CMS
A central repository will be required for your digitized records. An online collection management system has many benefits. There is an online solution for every size project. Artwork Archive works with both small nonprofits that have a handful of artworks and large corporations with thousands of records.
These are some key points to remember:
- Identify key stakeholders.
- Determine your budget
- Make your wish list
- Research vendors
- Schedule a demo
- Try the product
- Refer to references
- Please make your decision and then implement it!
Tip 4: Make sure to have your digitization toolkit on hand!
You don’t need a lot to digitize your collection, good news! We’ve seen it done using a smartphone. One group took photos with their smartphones, then uploaded them directly to their Artwork Archive account. They then made all the images public, so they could instantly share the artworks.
- A scanner may be a good option if you have paper files. Many options are available, and they can vary in price and performance. We encourage you to research them to find the right one for you.
- We have already spoken of the need for an online art inventory system to centralize all the digital artwork you create.
- Editing and design software is another tool worth considering. You can use a free program like GIMP or pay for a premium platform like Adobe. This is useful for editing your files, such as adding watermarks or borders, cropping and changing the exposure, clarity, brightness, or brightness of an image.
Tip #5 – Assign one project lead
Digitalization projects often face internal struggles due to bureaucracy and too many cooks. We recommend that you have an internal meeting to establish ground rules and best practices if more than one person is cataloging. A single project leader is needed to conduct the symphony.
We’ve seen 4 different opinions on terminology. They all created their fiefdoms in the CMS free trial. There was no continuity.
Continuity and cooperation are key. As a group, come together and create a common language and framework. To ensure that the project runs smoothly, assign someone to manage it. To ensure your long-term success, you will need a framework.