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Portland Art Museum

Portland Museum Masters Art of Digital Asset Management

Industry: Heritage & Culture

Product Line: Digital Asset Management


Where they started…

Founded in 1892, The Portland Art Museum is the oldest museum in the Pacific Northwest. With one of the largest and most diverse collections on the West Coast, the museum launched a $5.5 million campaign to make the collection more accessible internally and externally. The museum received a CHAMP grant to aid in this effort, with funding to digitize and catalog the collection and make it accessible beyond its own walls.

In order to achieve both the institutional and grant goals, the team recognized it needed to develop a more sophisticated strategy for digital asset management. It also needed a system to address its current pain points. These included:

  • A confusing and disparate folder structure
  • Duplication and sometimes deletion of files
  • Proliferation of files on desktops
  • No easy way to access collections images and limited rights management

What they did…

To get things started, the Portland Art Museum identified the key stakeholders who would need to use the system. This included the Directors of the Collections, Development and IT departments as well as their Interactive Media Producer, Digital Asset Manager, Senior Graphic Designer, and Registrars. These people were assembled into a campaign planning team.

Next the team took inventory of what IT systems were in place, which were primarily Window-based, but also included Macs. They also focused on inventorying their collection images, which was upwards of 20,000 assets in mixed formats.

As it embarked on finding a DAM system, the team developed a list of requirements. These included:

  • Overall ease of use to accommodate a wide range of technical skill
  • Ability to search, embed and extract metadata
  • Increased accessibility to assets, both internally and externally
  • Ability to manage duplications to reduce storage space and provide access to appropriate versions
  • Compatibility with its Collection Management System
  • Affordability

Upon evaluating systems against these criteria, Portfolio Server was selected to carry the Portland Art Museum forward.

Where they landed…

Since deploying Portfolio Server, the Portland Art Museum has centralized all their assets, incorporating accession numbers from the CMS system into file naming conventions. By doing so, collections assets are extremely easy to find in the database. Added, with Portfolio Server’s QuickFind feature, the Portland Art Museum has created custom search fields, including Accession Number, Artist Name and Title. They have also created several galleries that eliminate the need for popular searches.

Expanding its access, they have set up the web client- NetPublish- so the team can have access to files beyond the desktop.

With its core problems solved, the Portland Art Museum has increased its abilities to share their incredible works with the world.