If records cannot be accessed or shared online, the very mission of the museum is at risk ⚠️

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Artwork: Christopher Vicini

Just before the White House announced “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” museums across the country announced temporary closures to protect their staff and the public from the coronavirus. Large and medium sized museums from The Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Seattle Art Museum pledged to pay staff during the closure. By March 18th, The New York Times reported The Met’s projection of closure through July; and a $100 million dollar shortfall due to lost revenue — nearly one third of their annual operating budget. Prior to the virus, The Met projected a $3 to $4 million dollar annual loss. …


How do we win the tug of war with time?

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This Egyptian wall painting from the wall of Tomb 15 at Beni Hassan appears to depict toss jugglers. Illustration from “Illustrerad verldshistoria” by Ernst Wallis et al, 1875

Have you ever noticed how calm circus jugglers look; as if they wouldn’t even notice if a ball dropped? Maybe it’s the same for entrepreneurs. Each one of the tasks at hand is important: which one to spend time on when? Where and when NOT to spend our time, at least at that particular moment? Startup leaders have varying tasks dividing up the days, weeks and months as they work to get a business off the ground. Business & technology strategy, investor pitching, technology development, talent recruiting and managing- all are central. And so much of our time must be spent cultivating, selling to and learning from customers? …


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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Much has been proven and documented about museums being trusted as brands and as sources of information; surpassing the media, governments, NGO’s, and other traditionally trusted institutions. It makes logical sense: museums, along with libraries, are the world’s leading record keepers. They track the history of human achievement through collection, curation, preservation, annotation, access to and protection of creative expression, which we all value as human beings.

And yet, some people working in the museum world, along with benefactors and art collectors express self-doubt about cultural heritage institutions. Are we keeping up with technology? Are we adapting quickly enough? Are we doing enough to advance our record keeping? How do we strike the right balance between providing access to collections and control over ownership rights, appropriate use, and proper attribution? Is our data as accurate as it should be? For some, this self-doubt leads to a lack of self-respect for museums themselves. This may be acceptable if you work at a museum, are on a museum board, volunteer or donate; you are already supporting the important mission of cultural heritage. …


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A few years ago, I was browsing an art gallery on Cape Cod and started to talk with the artist/proprietor of the gallery. I asked her if she knew any artists whose work had been used without their permission. She laughed and said she knew few artists who had NOT had images of their work stolen and used without their permission. She went on to tell me a harrowing tale of suing over one of her own works, which had been misappropriated, only to hear from a judge in court that she had no proof of copyright (even though he didn’t doubt her assertion that she had actually painted the work in question). The judge explained that without verifiable record of copyright, there was little she could do to assert her ownership rights and protect the use of her art. …

About

Richard O'Leary

President of CultureTech.

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