Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Digital Collection Search

Pamela Martin, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, USA, Kelly Carpenter, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, USA

With the support of a three-part grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery recently launched a complex Search the Collection tool as part of its new website. To complete this project, a seven-person Albright-Knox project team worked closely with other stakeholders throughout the museum, as well as with representatives from Axiell (who manages the museum’s collections database, Mimsy), Bluecadet (who managed our 2016 website redesign), and Piction (who manages our digital asset management system of the same name).

The overall goal of this project was to provide website users the ability to efficiently search for and easily retrieve images of works in the museum’s collection as well as contextual information about the works. The images include both primary views of most artworks with corresponding copyright information, as well as select alternate views approved for publication on the website. The data includes general tombstone/label information, as well as more detailed information like provenance, inscriptions, and descriptions, when available. In order to successfully provide the most up-to-date information and assets, we decided to pull the artwork images and copyright information from our digital asset management system, Piction, and the artwork data from our collections database, Mimsy, linking the images and data in our website’s Drupal content management system, built by Bluecadet.

In this demonstration, the project’s managers will outline the project’s team, division of labor, and timeline; review many of our key definition, design, and development decisions; and discuss the many lessons we learned when implementing this complex integration, including issues of data security, data sync timing, and data sync frequency. We feel that this demonstration will be helpful for museum professionals embarking on digital Search the Collection projects, whether their museums use Mimsy and/or Piction or not.