As a museum director or curator, you know the value of your collections, in terms of both historical significance and emotional impact on your visitors. Digitizing your existing collections can make them accessible to more people in more places so that their value can be more widely understood. The digitization process involves multiple steps; for smaller museums, the process can seem daunting. But HAI has the expertise and experience to collaborate with you to make your collections more accessible to the public. As museum collections management experts, we work with museums to bring their collections to life online.
How Can Partnering with HAI Improve Museum Accessibility?
Digitizing your collections helps you reach people interested in your museum and its collections who are reluctant or unable to visit in person. Of course, the pandemic has negatively affected museum attendance. But other limiting factors prevent people from coming through museum doors. The price of admission can be prohibitive for some. The logistics and time associated with traveling to your museum building can be more than some people can afford. And, importantly, accessibility at arts institutions for those with disabilities remains a challenge, and barriers may exist between patrons’ homes and your physical collections. But if your collections exist online in an expertly arranged and easily accessible format, each of these barriers is eliminated. As a result, more people can view and learn from your museum’s exhibitions and collections.
Potential museum visitors are often moved to visit your physical location when they see something that interests them in your digital collections. In this way, digitizing your existing collections is one way to increase foot traffic. Furthermore, making your collections available online offers new opportunities for monetization. As curators know, those who show up in person to view museum collections benefit from the efforts of museum staff, who have curated exhibitions that tell stories through the items included. This crucial experience remains intact, and the items available for viewing online can stimulate visitors’ interest in showing up.
How Can Specialized Technology Help Overcome Labor Constraints at My Museum?
The resource constraints that might prevent museums from digitizing their collections are high. The labor required for object photography, records digitization, and curation of an online collection is substantial. Low-cost solutions to this problem might include utilizing internships or volunteers to do some of the detailed work. But making your volunteers successful depends upon an easy-to-use platform that works for a variety of users with different levels of technological expertise. If your platform is clunky, outdated, or requires too many resources to maintain, then you need new technology.
This presents your organization with both a huge undertaking and a huge opportunity. HAI can help you discover what technology will work best for your staff and volunteers, and best aid in making your museum’s collections more widely accessible. Importantly, too, your museum requires ample digital storage for your collections. We can partner with you to find a solution that meets this need and is also user-friendly for all members of your organization—and doesn’t add to paid staff members’ workloads. We understand the available technology, including Digital Asset Management, Digital Vaults, Digital Exhibits, and other software. We can assess your needs and help you select the technology that is perfect for your organization. HAI staff are experts in the digitization process and have access to contractors who specialize in the field. Hiring these positions internally is likely cost-prohibitive for many museums, but when you partner with HAI, we act as project managers to facilitate your access to this expertise. We understand that museum collections management isn’t just about the items themselves, but about the ease with which both your staff and your audience can access them.
How Can HAI Help Museums Secure Grant Funding?
HAI can help your museum secure grant funding that can help you mitigate the costs associated with digitizing your collections. HAI will consult with you to discover the cost, scope, and timeline associated with our work, and help you pursue appropriate grants. We understand that, particularly for nonprofit museums, resources are scarce. So, we partner with organizations to complete competitive grant applications that ensure your museum doesn’t experience a shortfall. When we partner with your museum, we can write a letter of intent that shows funding institutions that your museum has done the legwork in advance of applying. Furthermore, we set ourselves apart by partnering with you throughout the application process to offer expert guidance and support. Not every company offers this level of collaboration throughout every aspect of the digitization process, including securing funding.
Right now, funding institutions are particularly focused on—and more likely to fund—projects that increase accessibility. Digitizing your collections falls squarely within this scope, and HAI will help you highlight the work your organization will do to make your collections more widely available to the public. Having your plans endorsed by professional museum experts bolsters your funding requests.
How Can HAI Assist Museums with Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning is a critical component of the digitization process. HAI is well versed in helping museums create digital museum experiences that make their collections more accessible and organized in a way that all staff and volunteers can understand and access. We partner with museums from the beginning stage of determining your needs to completing the full-scale digitizing and digital curation of your collections. As museum directors and staff know, there are many platforms available for digitizing museum collections. Our staff can help you determine your technology needs and help you select the platform (internal link to software options?) that is ideal for your staff and your audience. We collaborate with you to identify how much labor will be needed to complete the project and what expertise is required to execute your museum’s vision. When you choose HAI as a collaborator for museum collections management, we assign you a project manager who facilitates all facets of the project and can call in trusted outside contractors for scanning, digitization, and other specialized technology needs. HAI can partner with your organization over the long term if desired, and offers solutions all the way through full-scale digitization of your museum’s collections. We act as your expert partner throughout the implementation process and help train museum staff as we go.
So, even if you are starting from scratch on digitizing your museum collections, HAI has the expertise and access to resources that will ensure your success. Our staff collaborates with you at every stage, and on all facets of the project. When you work with HAI, you are assigned a team with a project manager, who is your go-to expert throughout the entire scope of the project. You and your staff will be trained in the technology as you go, so when your collaboration with HAI ends, you and your staff are able to competently take over your digital collection. We act as your partners in modern, user-friendly museum collections management that allows more people in more places to understand the value of your museum’s collections.