Vesica Blog - Taking museum and art collections to the cloud

May 20, 2011

Museums and virtual exhibitions – help is on the way

Ever since we started to work on Vesica, our team has always been interested in the workings of virtual exhibitions. I’ve also recently been keeping up with some very interesting articles. In particular, Michael Douma’s articles on the IDEA blog with regards to virtual exhibitions, their potential and how they are affecting the potential breed of online museums visitors have made an interesting read.

Whilst I am of the view that some things can only been seen and appreciated in person, that’s certainly not the case for everyone. I also believe that the correct implementation and application of virtual exhibitions holds great potential for museums, not just in terms of attracting new a genre of visitor or international visitors, but more so in terms of monetizing permanent collections, indefinitely.

As someone who thinks technology is meant to serve us (and not the other way around), I believe that with the right tools and integration, building and managing virtual exhibitions can and should be easy for museums. But that’s not the case, because managing a virtual exhibition can be quite demanding in terms of time, investment and manpower. Once it gets going it may not be too difficult to manage, but curating a virtual exhibition also takes some web expertise and can be quite laborious.

At Vesica, we have a vision. We want virtual exhibitions to be a piece of cake to build, cost effective (with little or no financial investment in addition to what it may take to curate an actual exhibition) and less time consuming. Better, we actually have a plan in place to see that vision come true and our team is in the initial phases to get our virtual exhibitions module (that’s what I’ll call it for now) off the ground and into cyberspace.

So how will this work? In a nutshell, we believe that virtual exhibitions can and should be an extension to a museum’s collection management software. This should be (and with Vesica it is) a repository of everything to do with your collection, including your audio guides, videos, images and other public domain information required for an online exhibit. We will allow the use of this information, perhaps via click and drag functionality, allowing museums to create a virtual exhibition with just a few clicks (and typing in some configuration parameters, of course). It’s going to be easy, should take just a few minutes to configure and will be hosted on a museum branded website. Museums will have the option to charge a fee for these exhibitions to all who want to see it. Furthermore, if museums use the virtual exhibitions function in Vesica, we’ll promote the exhibition to our userbase, depending on the relevance of a particular exhibition. And here is the best part – at this point we don’t anticipate any additional costs on top of the ongoing Vesica price to use the virtual exhibitions module – which is about £0.05 per object.

It really is going to be easy to use – just like the rest of Vesica. If you have suggestions about how you would like to see virtual exhibitions work, please do not hesitate to share.

May 1, 2011

iPad and Tablet PCs now supported

Filed under: News,Upcoming Features,Using Vesica — Tags: , , , , , — vesica-press-releases @ 6:20 pm

Vesica - now available for tablet PCs

With today’s update, Vesica now supports Apple iPad and other Google Android and Windows 7 powered tablet PCs.

This mobile compatibility is one of many upcoming add-ons and we believe it to be of great benefit to museums and collectors, who can now start archiving and documenting collections on the go. All major devices that work with the above operating systems and have the latest mobile browser related updates will support Vesica. No third party software or app installation is needed. Simply visit https://vesica.ws on your mobile device, sign in and start using Vesica.

We’re also offering financing on iPads and other tablets with Vesica. If you are a museum, you may also be eligible for free tablet PCs with Vesica. More information on this will be coming soon.

In the mean time,  please contact our sales department for more details.

April 13, 2011

The new Vesica – Coming Soon

Filed under: News,Upcoming Features — Tags: , , — Asif N @ 11:58 am

The New Vesica

We’ve been waiting for this as much as you have – it is with great pleasure that I am announcing the release date of the new version of Vesica – April 25, 2011.

The team has been hard at work for the last few months – we’ve been working day and night to put together something that I am truly proud of. This isn’t just a major upgrade, it’s a complete overhaul of the Vesica platform, and it is impressive (if I may say so myself).

Among other things, the new version boasts :

  • A completely new interface to search and edit pieces / objects and collections. This interface is fast and extensive, and feedback has been extremely positive during testing.
  • A comprehensive new section for object management – the software now allows you to extensively document, manage and market your art collection.
  • Speed – yes, it works almost as fast as a desktop application. There’s no page loading when you switch tabs, upload files or submit new information about a collection or piece.
  • Grace – this was important for me – we had to make sure that whatever we built was good to look at and graceful to interact with.
  • Advanced Search – now you just check some criteria boxes to filter your collection and all the relevant pieces show up. Type and further narrow the search criteria. It all happens lightning fast!
  • Charts – yes, now you can see beautifully animated charts that illustrate your collection by type, technique, region, dynasty or any of the other Vesica parameters.
  • Much, much more!

There’s a lot of good stuff in the new release in addition to the features mentioned above. We’ve looked at the art collection standard and gone the extra mile. We will also be publishing a regularly updated list of upcoming features with the new release.

Best of all, given the boost of new users we have had, we’ve been able to revise the pricing structure. A new price list will be published on April 25. I can, however, tell you that the free account now allows for up to 10 pieces, and each increment of 50 pieces from thereon is priced at £5. It’s nice and simple – and we like simple! In short, your existing account will only see a positive effect – piece allowance will go up and your monthly statement will automatically be adjusted to reflect the new price.

Watch this space for more updates over the next few days!

March 25, 2011

Change of Payment Gateway

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:26 pm

For various reasons, we at Vesica have decided to make the switch from our current payment provider to a new one.  This period of transition will take a few weeks and will go live with the new version of Vesica.

Until the change goes into effect, all payments on galleries, upgrades and new accounts will be taken over the telephone.

All existing customers’ payments will be processed as they have been before – unless you want to upgrade or downgrade your plan. If you are a new customer or would like to upgrade the plan you are currently on, please give the office a call on 020 8133 8050 and we’ll process the upgrade over the phone – it will only take a couple of minutes.

We will be advising all customers once the change-over has been processed. Rest assured, we expect the transition to be smooth.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Thank you for your continued support!

November 15, 2010

The Malpractice of Art Collecting

Last year, I made the conscious decision to move away from tempting but morally void allure of the corporate world. After having spent many years dealing with large corporates and their representatives, or with other businesses in general, with support from some great people, I turned towards the art industry. It seemed different – unlike the business world, the art world appeared to have some character and the people who were involved in the traditional arts (that was my primary exposure at the time) appeared to very passionate about their work. Finally, I was getting to know some people who actually cared about what they were doing and did it because they wanted to do it and enjoyed doing it.

“This would be a great bunch of people to work with,” I thought to myself. That was a while ago. As I have become involved with the museum and art collecting ‘industry’ over the last year or so, the true character of the art industry has become clearer. It appears that the majority of art collectors collect for the wrong reasons, the majority of contemporary, modern artists produce art for no reason at all (and if you can’t see this in most modern art then you’re either part of the former, present or the next group) and the majority of art consultants or galleries, and in many instances, museums, are motivated and involved with the arts for what, shall we say, is questionable motivation.

A few weeks ago, we were contacted by an art consultant (who is involved with some museums and a company that writes software for museums) who is starting an art consultancy to help collectors manage and ‘enhance’ their collections. Whilst I would personally disagree with this person’s approach to collecting art, they made it clear that art world did not, and does not, really care about the actual objects or pieces of art in a collection, or their symbolical or historical importance. The interest lies around acquisition information, insurance details, rights management, in which employee is responsible and what they can do to maximize cash and revenue from the collections they help collectors manage.

This is a part of Vesica which has been lowest on our list of priorities (and is currently being developed as part of a new, single submission driven interface). Our current focus so far has been on documenting the art collections – documenting for those who are passionate about their collections, understand the techniques, materials, symbolism and effort that goes into producing a great piece of collectible art – not this modern mumbo jumbo of let’s assign a value and compute our commission. We are, after all, talking about an art collection, not an art calculation.

The reason for this is simple: so far we’ve dealt directly with collectors who have little of no commercial motivation – they collect art because it speaks to them. These are the people who are not involved in the malpractice of art. However, there are hundreds of thousands of galleries, collectors and artists who are all involved with this industry for only commercial reasons – and that’s ruining the sanctity of art.

These are the politicians and bankers of the art world – they are corrupting the essence and practice of art – especially in Europe. They’re involved in the industry because it’s a status symbol – because being an artist is hip, because collecting art means you’re sophisticated, and being an art consultant or art gallery means you will affluent clients. But does anyone really understand what they are involved with or trying to sell. Do you really think most of these people know why some of Monet’s work is worth millions – other than the fact that he’s dead and it is what Pierce Brosnan was trying to steal in the Thomas Crown Affair? Not really, no. It’s all about the Hollywood effect.

So if you’re one of those artists drawing squiggly lines and asking the viewer to discover the abstract meaning of your blindingly painful insult to art, one of those collectors who’s collecting art from someone because they’re about to get a deal signed with Sotheby’s or Christie’s, or one of those art consultants who are so ignorant about the symbolism of an Indian miniature painting or the skill involved in proportionately well drawn portraits or illustrations, you are involved in adding to the corruption of the art world. You are essentially involved in what I consider to be the malpractice of art. I would even name government institutions in several countries promoting such malpractice, but because of laws pertaining to libel, at this point, I will not name any person, artist, consultant or government organization. Really, none of them deserve any credit.If the motivation is commercial or financial, you should go into the business world – not hide behind the ‘innocence’ or purity of art.

But there is one saving grace for the deserving artist, the passionate collector, and the art collection consultant (who really is more of an elaborate and personalized curator, in my opinion, as opposed to an art collection calculator as many of them are today). Some of the world’s most affluent art collectors are the ones who will not make the media; they really don’t care to. These are the collectors who have collections in their houses which are more valuable than what museums have on display; these are the collectors who know which artist has real skill; these are the collectors who know which consultant to go to for documentation, research and advice, these are the people who don’t really care about acquisition notes or rights management issues – and you won’t find any of them on LinkedIn or Facebook as art collectors. Why? Because for them it is a passion – it’s not how they try to do business or make a living.

Whilst I have every intention of having Vesica capable of supporting the business functions required to manage art collections from a commercial standpoint, I don’t ever want us to become a business involved in the malpractice, inflatable commercialisation or demoralisation of art or antiques. It’s just not the artistically humane thing to do.

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