Ever wonder how a gallery manages its collection? In this blog post, Registrar | Consultant Aaron Guravich writes about professional practices in the museum industry for managing collections, and how the AGM digital archive will give you access to rarely seen works!
While the concept of museums as collections of objects has existed for centuries in one form or another, contemporary museums and public galleries as we now understand them are a very new kind of institution. Contemporary practices for the conservation of objects have only been put into standardized practice within the last two decades or so. Within that span of time we have seen huge technological advances in computing and these days the task of cataloguing all of the objects in a collection has migrated from typed or handwritten catalogues to sophisticated software driven databases that have been tailored to meet the specific needs of museums and public galleries.
The Louvre, for example, has made a large part of its collections available through virtual exhibitions hosted on their website. These exhibits allow you to navigate a virtual Louvre based directly on the physical museum edifice and that contains all of the information in the physical exhibition; each object and didactic panel is included in the virtual experience. Using these technological innovations as access points to collections has tremendous potential to reach audiences beyond geographic boundaries.
At the Art Gallery of Mississauga, we are currently in the process of digitizing the permanent art collection. This means that we are having all of the works in the collection professionally photographed for archival purposes. We are also in the process of upgrading the gallery’s previous database to a piece of museum standard software called PastPerfect. We will be integrating the new photographs of the collection with the new database software. The software will allow us to easily and comprehensively track the collection and its movements. PastPerfect will also allow for the gallery’s permanent art collection to be hosted online for the public to access.
This is a very exciting project for the AGM and we are looking forward to offering greater access to the collection through its online presence. Once the collection has been made available online, the public, researchers and curators will have access to the entire database. This will include the wonderful new images that we are currently producing, artist biographical information (as available) and all information relevant to the works in the collection. The AGM collection is held in trust for all of the citizens of Mississauga and we are very pleased to be able to offer this new access point.
Drop by the AGM during Allegory of the Cave (Nov 21 – Jan 1) to see the collection being archived! Photo documentation schedule here.