Top Tech Tools for Museums
A museum trustee called me the other day for some pointers on what’s going on in museum technology. I spoke to her a little while, and then thought, “isn’t there somewhere I can point her, where she can learn a bit more about museums & technology?” As I googled and qwanted ‘top museum tech tools’, most of the things I found were old (from 2011 or 2015) or focused on the trends within museums rather than the tools and companies themselves.
So, here is my little list of amazing companies that are changing the museum world, and how you can find out more. For art museums, it might also be helpful to check out the Art Innovators Alliance website, currently with 8 member companies but that will keep growing in members over the next year too.
I’ll keep updating this list over time (I’m sure I will have forgotten someone) but hopefully, this is helpful to others looking to help museums think of 21st-century tools to use.
Also a quick note — I am focussing on companies we have worked with for years, or that our customers have used. There are new companies starting up every single day, but I won’t add them to this list until they are more established. Why? Because museums are super risk-averse. Maybe I’ll add a list of super-new startups soon too.
I’ve added them in alphabetical order, to avoid any politics!
This is the condition reporting app. It is used by registrars and conservators, on a tablet, phone or computer, to log the condition of the items they handle. The app can be simple, but also expands to be super complex. What do I mean? The reports published are used by the top conservators, to analyse complex scientific issues and making sure that every detail is reported, but can also be used by shippers and handlers that need to report updates quickly and securely.
Capture is a UK-based company helping deliver value for rights owners and heritage organisations that have digital assets they would like to monetise. Their software helps enable licensing, commercial and digital teams, in order to track what they’re doing.
For any museum that’s handling a lot of images and/or digital assets, a conversation with Capture would be worthwhile. They can really help describe what kind of income can be generated from the assets.
This cloud-based collection management system is really helping museums manage their information and collections in a more efficient way. A lot of museums are still stuck on older versions of collection management, but this one has evolved to become a versatile tool for a variety of different museums. The founder, Eric Kahan, is a seasoned professional in the arts who is extremely dedicated to the privacy of those who use his platform.
If you’re looking to engage with audiences, this is the company to speak with. They use different tools to assess your visitor experience, through mobile apps for education and engagement to membership programmes. They have an amazing list of museums that they have worked with, so it will undoubtedly be easy to get a reference for their work.
This non-profit foundation is based out of Madrid and works to preserve heritage using state-of-the-art technology, from 3D scanning to video to technical analysis. The organisation has been at the forefront of initiatives for digitisation around the world, from Europe to the Middle East to North America. In their mission, they repeatedly use the words “practical” and “high resolution” — a testament to their commitment to using cost and time effective methodologies while also bringing the best possible solutions to light.
One of the places where museums have always considered technology is for security, and this hardware company is at the forefront of what sensors can do. Fortecho sensors are already used in many of the world’s largest museums and help prevent theft, track movements or monitor any environmental risks to the art.
This company focuses on building new tools on behalf of museums. They also operate a ticketing system (which is looking at incorporating cryptocurrency payments), and they manage a website called Cultural Places. They are based in Vienna, but work with clients around the world across the tourism & culture sector.
The youngest initiative on our list, ReACH is a Unesco-backed initiative that is spearheaded by the V&A to set new standards and define a convention on how to reproduce cultural heritage objects in the 21st century. Looking at 3D printing, blockchain, virtual reality, mixed media and much more, this is an initiative all museums should keep an eye on to find out how their policies marry up with the new standards.
Given it is a non-profit research initiative rather than a startup, this younger project is definitely one that museums should bear in mind.
Using image recognition, this is basically the next generation of audio guides. Museums can upload information about works, which are recognised by the algorithm (in the same way a QR code is read, or how facial recognition works). The app is free, and you pay for analytics from how visitors engage with the art.
Moyosa is a digital agency specialised in AR/VR and digital experiences. They joined forces with the Kremer Collection to create an amazing Virtual Reality Museum of old master art. There are many virtual reality experiences out there, but what Moyosa has produced here is another level of interaction and versatility. Museums interested in a presence on VR should definitely check this out.
Shameless plug, but we are a part of the museum’s toolkit! Vastari has a marketplace of touring exhibitions available for loan, as well as a database of privately owned objects able to be lent to museums for exhibitions. The main difference with existing listing platforms is that the company actively works to promote and match the content with venues that match the requirements.
Since October 2018, Vastari has also started publishing its findings from the institution database in reports, to help raise awareness of the exhibition operating models within the industry.
This is a Salesforce-based inventory and ticketing management tool. It can be custom-built for every museum, to manage both collections as well as membership and ticket sales, and this ‘young’ company has the benefit of being built on such a well-known, solid system well-known to large corporates with many API’s (Salesforce). The husband-and-wife team behind the platform works with a very solid development team to cater the system to the requirements of each museum they work with.
I hope this list is helpful! I will keep updating it over time. If you have any questions about this list, don’t hesitate to ask me or our team by contacting us.