Here are the questions asked:
How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
How does a Museum where radical Arts and Architecture meet Digital Asset Management?
What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Henrik de Gyor 0:00
This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Susan Wamsley.
Henrik de Gyor 0:09
Susan, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Susan Wamsley 0:13
Hi, Henrik. I am currently the Digital Asset Manager at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum here in New York. And previously, I’ve worked as a Digital Asset Manager, and Photo Archivist for civil engineering firms and architecture firms in New York City. And I was thinking, what the differences between those those days of yore and now and previously, there was more of a focus on kind of a mass digitization of photography collections, and then making them accessible. And now we have the undercurrent of mass digitization of archives. But on top of that, we have the proliferation of born digital assets, photography, as well as audio and video these days. So that’s what we’re dealing with at the Guggenheim.
Henrik de Gyor 1:04
Susan, how does a Museum where radical Arts and Architecture meet Digital Asset Management?
Susan Wamsley 1:11
We use the DAM in many different ways. One, we organize and reuse our assets for our public facing projects. These would be marketing projects, our website, social media, our app, any educational programs, virtual tours, publishing, licensing, that sort of thing.
Susan Wamsley 1:33
We also use it for documentation of the collection. We have our condition documentation for our artworks. We have treatment documentation, install and de-install photographs. And we also have documentation of our beautiful building, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architect was Frank Lloyd Wright. And we have going back to the construction of the building, William Short, was the project manager, I believe, for the construction, and he photographed the building, as it was being built. So that’s fascinating information. And then we also, of course, document the building to this day, that that up to our Wayfinding signs that relate to our pandemic preparedness. So we document all different kinds of things in there.
Susan Wamsley 2:26
And then also be capture our institutional knowledge with the DAMs for Museum, it just sort of grows and grows. The lifecycle of a digital asset is essentially forever in there, because we just build on it. So if you have an old photograph of a painting, maybe you don’t use it for marketing anymore, but maybe your conservation department’s interested in what the colors looked like in a particular year. So we just sort of build our institutional knowledge in the DAMs. Use it as sort of a small a archive, we also have capital A Archives. But this is a place where you can learn about our objects. You can look at the exhibition history, how it’s been shown and exhibitions through the years, you can look at the conservation history and determine the copyright information.
Susan Wamsley 3:18
And one good example of how we’re using our DAM to capture knowledge is in our recently, almost completed project, the Panza Collection Initiative. That was a 10 year research project that was funded by the Mellon Foundation grants. And it was a look at our conceptual, minimal and post minimal artworks in the Panza collection. And this is very complex material. And it needed to be researched very carefully from lots of different sources.
Susan Wamsley 3:53
And our researchers were able to capture what they found about the objects. I’m just gonna use as an example. We have four exhibition copies of one Bruce Nauman neon work, and these kind of holdings you need to look at and determine Is there something that would be considered an original? Are there any they’re considered wrong? Are they the wrong colors or something, for example? So our researchers interviewed the artists, interviewed artists estates, looked carefully at what we have looked at other archives, pulled all this information together, and then they’re able to determine, for example, in this or that exhibition photo, which artwork is in there is this exhibition copy, that exhibition copy. So that kind of material, which is very complex and has lots of nuance is perfect, actually for the DAM because you can get a lot of description in there. You can get a lot of photographs in there, and you can really detail all of the findings. And then ultimately, this is to be sort of available for public research. So this has been a big project and one that I think has really shown what you can do with the Digital Asset Management system.
Henrik de Gyor 5:15
Susan, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Susan Wamsley 5:20
This was something that, as I thought about, I kind of thought we could answer both questions with the same answer, which would be user adoption. I feel like your biggest success as a digital asset manager is achieving a solid user adoption, because that means you’ve got a good interface, your metadata is good and you’ve have a good rapport with your colleagues and with all the people who are using this [DAM] because you’ve listened to what they need, and you’re responding to also the needs of the company. So you can set up good workflows, as well as have data integrity.
Susan Wamsley 6:02
And I thought this is also really one of the biggest challenges is you have a system that people need lots of different things from and they want different things from. And how do you set something up that can please everybody, or mostly please everybody? So I would say user adoption for both of those.
Henrik de Gyor 6:24
Susan, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Susan Wamsley 6:30
I don’t know if I have a lot of advice for people who are already professionals, because I’m sure we all have similar experiences. I think, currently, one thing that is a big topic, among my colleagues is interoperability with other systems that that’s really a key to your data integrity, and just to making your workflows easier for everybody in the institution, or in the company that you work for. And I would say, people who are coming into this, that, you know, you you find yourself doing a lot of the work on your own. There are a lot of hours to setting things up and determining a taxonomy and coming up with the keywords and all kinds of things, applying metadata. But really, when it comes down to it, while you’re also worried during all this, what you really need to be doing is interacting with your colleagues a lot and really listening to what people need, what they expect, and how your system can respond to kind of the culture that the institution or the company needs. You can reflect their acronyms. You can see how people search you can. Are they looking for something really specific? Are they looking for more browsable topics, that kind of thing, and really build something that responds to the needs of the institution.
Henrik de Gyor 7:59
Well, Thanks Susan.
Susan Wamsley 8:00
Thank you for inviting me to be on your podcast.