The Role of Collections Management Systems in the Art Industry

The Role of Collections Management Systems in the Art Industry

Art collection management is the backbone of the art world. Sounds like an exaggeration? Think about it: how many museums are there in the world, or even in the US itself? Then, imagine how many invaluable objects all of them carry. Now, think about how often objects get loaned and borrowed to other institutions, taken away for restoration, or moved from the exhibition halls into storage. We have seen what happens when museums do not take care of their inventory before, so a well-oiled art collection management system is essential. So, what is the deal with collections management systems (CMS), and what can private art collectors learn from art institutions?

A brief history of collections management systems

The first machine-readable catalogs were used by libraries in the 1960s. Museums were immediately interested in the possibilities of this technology, but their needs were very different from those of libraries. For example, museum databases needed to be dynamic to accommodate the constant additions of new information. Back then, museum catalogs were mostly thought of as a more efficient way of keeping inside records that would not be available to anyone but museum workers. Since the ’60s, collection management systems have become much more complex and sophisticated, and most art institutions have their collections available online for anyone to see.

What do collection management systems look like?

Collection management systems are databases that carry all the necessary information about the collection of an art institution. To ensure optimal accuracy, CMS entries must be easy to update, edit, and delete if necessary. They also must have built-in backups, security, and access regulation systems to protect the data.

When you add a new entry to a collections management system, you usually need to specify several characteristics apart from its title, the name of the creator, and its description. That often includes everything related to the acquisition of an item, including its accession number and acquisition date and method. Knowing the exact location, as well as the movement history of an item, also plays a crucial role in ensuring its safety.

How can you benefit from collection management services?

As a fine art collector or artist, you are probably wondering how you can implement the rules followed by art institutions to better take care of your precious collection. The great news is that you can access the same level of security and organization as museums and galleries by opting for a professional fine art storage service. Expert art handlers will ensure that all your valuables are stored according to museum-level standards and monitored at all times. Interested? Check out Fine Art Shippers’ art storage facility in Upper Manhattan.