How the art industry is using digital asset management to redefine the concept of shared collections

Historically content has been protected and not shared; kept close to the chest and safely guarded. What would happen if you freely shared your information, content, or valuable digital assets?

These days, business trends are moving away from the guarded competition culture and more into open collaboration. Sharing useful information is more than just helpful; the power lies in the capability to reach and affect the broader audience. The audience who quite possibly wouldn’t have had the opportunity to benefit from that information before. It can feel risky to offer information for free when others in your industry don’t, but organizations who do are feeling the benefit.

On January 1st, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, two Smithsonian Institutions of Asian Art, released their entire art collections for free public viewing, for the first time, through the use of a digital asset management (DAM) system. It felt like a breath of fresh air. It also made me wonder about any unintended consequences that may occur by opening their collections up to the broader audience. Would this prevent people from wanting to experience the art in person? Would it affect museum attendance?

How the art Industry is using digital asset management

Being new to Widen and learning about all the benefits and useful angles DAM offers I continually get excited when I see DAM being used in ways that surprise me. In this instance, it turns out the Smithsonian Institutions of Asian Art are thinking beyond what’s typical and using DAM to transform the way the art industry shares art collections.

It’s an exciting way to utilize DAM, but thinking through to the next layer, it’s also a powerful use of information distribution. Sharing the collections openly may have impacted the young student who never knew they loved art; the individual who didn’t get a chance to develop their sense of art appreciation; the art teacher looking for a resource to supplement learning in the classroom. Turns out sharing the art openingly, fuels a larger passion and interest.

The Smithsonian’s motivation to offer the art collections online is to allow easy access to the next generation of art lovers and to help foster scholarship within the industry. They believe that giving access to the digitized art collections will help foster a larger interest in the art itself and will therefore draw awareness to the industry as a whole. Ultimately, the awareness will drive attendance to their museums, so it’s a win-win.

We agree! It will be interesting to see if other museums follow suit.

Leave a comment here or check out the amazing art collections at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of art. Or contact us for more information about digital asset management!

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