The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, has made significant strides over the past few years in using various web and mobile platforms to make the museum’s Fine Art, Digital Assets, Library, and Archives Collections mores accessible to our on-site and online audiences.
Instead of investing time and resources into creating our own mobile application, in late 2012, the Albright-Knox leveraged Historypin—a free, simple, and effective web and mobile platform—to create several self-guided walking tours exploring objects in the museum’s Collections, including the outdoor sculpture on the museum’s campus. The Historypin platform offers a unique way to showcase digital and physical materials and gives our audiences—who may not have the time, money, or desire to visit the interior of our museum—the ability to interact with these interesting resources for free using a computer, smartphone, or tablet, wherever they are.Unfortunately, even the most effective digital tools don’t last forever. Like all software, Historypin’s mobile application required constant maintenance to keep it working well on the most current versions of smartphones and tablets. On April 22, 2015, Historypin made the disappointing decision to remove its mobile application from the Apple and Google Play Stores. This abrupt loss of a valued resource and key digital tool has left Albright-Knox staff members wondering what steps we can take moving forward to make a digital loss less difficult.
I know members of the Albright-Knox staff are not alone. Digital loss is happening to cultural institutions all of the time and it is an important issue to discuss with fellow MCN attendees in this age of technology.
Although I don’t have all of the answers at this time, I hope to be able to address the following questions in my case study presentation, this fall: - What does this loss of a valued resource mean for our content? - How will our on-site and online audiences be affected? - How is hard work justified after a loss? - Moving forward, should we invest in and develop our own technology instead of taking on the risk of relying on someone else’s technology, even if it is free? - What tools can we utilize in order to make this content available elsewhere for our on-site and online visitors? - How can we adapt to make a loss like this less painful in the future?