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Product Spotlight: A Collection Management System that Works for You - Public Art Archive
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Product Spotlight: A Collection Management System that Works for You

By February 21, 2024 February 27th, 2024 No Comments
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If you work with public art collections, it’s likely that most days you find yourself wearing many hats. A day may shift from managing a slew of artwork commissions in process to putting together a call for artists, stopping by city hall to hang a piece of artwork, then heading over to a park to remove graffiti from a sculpture. Finding tools to help manage these ever-shifting workloads is essential for project planning, tracking, collaborating with teammates, and staying organized. More significantly, the right tool should be able to alleviate your workload — making it easier for you to spend more time with the art and less time on the paperwork.

The Public Art Archive Collection Management System (PAA CMS) offers the only digital tool custom-built to support and streamline the complexities of the public art workflow. Going far beyond artwork inventory management, the PAA CMS provides a web-based solution to centralize documentation, digital assets, and to-do lists surrounding your collection. Track project budgets, detail artwork conditions, access your contact list, and develop project checklists to reduce the time-consuming tasks of capturing all that you do in disparate systems. When your work behind the scenes is done, showcasing your collection online is seamless and easy: you can publish artworks directly from your CMS to the Public Art Archive’s public engagement portal where your collection will be available to explore and engage with from any device. Take advantage of our interactive collection maps, and connect the public with artworks nearest their current location or planned destinations.

Cheryl Klimaszewski, Public Art Cataloger for Mural Arts Philadelphia — one of the country’s oldest, most prolific, and most esteemed public art organizations — recently spoke with the PAA team about how using the PAA CMS has helped their team manage their collection:

The Philadelphia Design Building (Restoration) (1983). By Richard Haas. Mural Arts Philadelphia Collection. Courtesy: Steve Weinek, Chestnut Place copyright 1983 Richard Haas, 2300 Chestnut Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

The Philadelphia Design Building (Restoration) (1983). By Richard Haas. Courtesy: Steve Weinek, Chestnut Place copyright 1983 Richard Haas, 2300 Chestnut Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

How does the CMS help you in your daily workflow and resolve organizational pain points?

Cheryl: Adopting the CMS essentially created an archiving workflow for our organization. Existing project management workflows emphasize individual project development, execution and completion. However, once the work was done, files were not systematically organized and archived. The CMS now provides a home for the most salient documents and structures and standardizes the storage of project information, making it easily retrievable through various reports. Now, we are able to quickly and easily pull information for various departments, assist with the creation of annual reports, and answer questions for outside researchers.

Climate Justice in Lenapehoking (2023). By Eurhi Jones. Mural Arts Philadelphia Collection. Courtesy: Steve Weinik, Climate Justice in Lenapehoking © 2023 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Eurhi Jones, 1800 North American Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Climate Justice in Lenapehoking (2023). By Eurhi Jones. Mural Arts Philadelphia Collection. Courtesy: Steve Weinik, Climate Justice in Lenapehoking © 2023 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Eurhi Jones, 1800 North American Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

What are some creative uses of the CMS that you haven't been able to do in other systems you have used previously?

Cheryl: Because project data is standardized and includes GIS information, we now have the ability to map and visualize projects to better understand how murals have integrated with the city in different ways. The potential inherent in integrating public art data with other geographic, demographic, environmental and cultural datasets is huge — and we are now able to capitalize on trends in big data and GIS.

What is your favorite thing about the CMS?

Cheryl: Even though cataloging is still in progress, more often than not, the CMS is now the starting point for quickly and easily answering questions about projects across the 40-year history of the organization.

A screensht of Mural Arts public art collection map.

What Do I Need out of a Collection Management System?

Finding the right collection management system requires identifying the pain points in your current workflow you would like to resolve, as well as the goals you have for managing your collection long-term. Below are some considerations to help you evaluate your unique collection needs.

Do you need…

  • to move your artwork inventory from a spreadsheet or legacy system that no longer meets your programs needs? 
  • a web-based system to document your collection while you are out in the field?
  • streamlined interfaces that can assist with terminology and vocabularies to support simplified cataloging and searching?
  • tools to track the commissioning process prior to artwork fabrication and installation?
  • secure storage for all of your organization’s digital assets (images, contracts, etc.) and contacts in one place?
  • an easy way to manage artwork maintenance and conservation projects?
  • the ability to track the demographics of artists and contributors that are part of your collection and network of collaborators?
  • seamless web access to your collection so members of the public can explore and learn about the art in your community?

Take a Closer Look at Our Collection Management System

Get in touch to learn how the Public Art Archive’s Collection Management System is the solution for you. Ready to get started?

Mention this blog and we’ll migrate your public art data into your new Collection Management System at no additional cost.