The Liechtenstein Museum: When Heritage Meets Modernity
The Princely Collections is one of the most important private art collections in the world. It contains major works of European art, spanning across five centuries. Picturepark provides the digital content backbone that enables the Liechtenstein Museum, the safeguarder of the Princely Collections, to carefully archive and protect the works. Helping to ensure that they can be enjoyed today and for future generations to come.
Picturepark assists the Liechtenstein Museum in managing the media content relating to its world-renowned collections and intelligently leveraging the metadata stored in its Zetcom MuseumPlus collections management software. The seamless integration between Picturepark and MuseumPlus combines the best of both worlds: high level collection management and best-of-breed Digital Asset Management.
Facts at a Glance
- 1597: the earliest year related to royal correspondence about the collection.
- 2020: when the museum made the step from Picturepark Onsite to the Picturepark Cloud.
- 500 Years: the range of ages of pieces in the collection.
- Over 1700 paintings and sculptures contained within the collection.
A Collection That Must be Experienced in Full
To ensure the collection can reach the widest audience possible, each individual work has been painstakingly photographed and digitally tagged: resulting in a rich digital asset collection with a size of more than 15 terabytes. Some digitalized art collections represent the entirety of the works, though the Princely Collections have their own physical counterparts. The two formats complimenting and supporting each other. Liechtenstein. The Princely Collections required a path that would carefully bridge the physical and digital worlds, in a way that was both easy to maintain and be reliable.
“Using Picturepark we have found the perfect complement for MuseumPlus: images are managed with the rich functionality of the Picturepark system and all important information is synchronized. The time required for management and searching through our massive amount of data has been greatly reduced.”
Michael Schweller, Registrar and Exhibition Manager
From the Early Days, to the Modern Cloud
The Princely Collections started out life like most newly digitized collections, in that they were stored locally in a Picturepark Onsite server, starting in 2011. The primary reasons for doing so were security, performance and accessibility over internal networks. However, in 2020, after a thorough forward thinking review with a clear objective of staying up-to-date with modern technology; the Princely Collections decided to move ahead to the Picturepark Cloud. In doing so, they utilized the latest product generation Picturepark Content Platform which satisfied the security requirements, while also providing versatile options for storing and intelligently connecting large data quantities.
“When our customer started the performance tests, I already knew that Picturepark would provide fast up & download-speeds as we reworked our underlying technology recently, but ultimately we were all quite surprised when somebody just dropped around 50 GB at once into the web browser and the next moment, that content was already available in Picturepark.”
Philip Axmann, Director of Business Development Picturepark & Account Manager
An Enterprise DAM Partner for MuseumPlus
Before the digital collection even existed, comprehensive metadata about the Princely Collections had already been collected in Zetcom MuseumPlus: the collections management software that the Liechtenstein Museum uses for tracking and managing its physical collections.
In transitioning to Picturepark, the curators at the museum were keen to avoid the arduous task of duplicating data entry - once in MuseumPlus and another time in Picturepark. Herefor, an integration between both systems was ordered for which Picturepark provided the necessary integration frameworks via API and a Service Provider framework which can run applications that are tightly coupled with Picturepark.
While MuseumPlus integration was a strong advantage to using Picturepark, the Princely Collections also had additional requirements which were key. These included: the ability to digitally retouch photographs without the need for external software, to be able to generate and provide images in multiple resolutions and provide easy access to the collections from anywhere on earth - with the option of customized portals.
For the Princely Collections, Museum Plus and Picturepark take up key roles and complement each other in an ideal way: MuseumPlus acts as the master source for all collection relevant information such as artworks, exhibitions and artists, and Picturepark is the master for all multimedia content - and the place from which content from both sources becomes routed onwards.
With the integration via the MuseumPlus Connector, Picturepark now receives all collection-relevant information from MuseumPlus for improved searching and largely automatic smart tagging of multimedia content, and provides suitable media for visualisation in MuseumPlus.
A New Dimension of Metadata Management
Initially, some had the idea that Digital Asset Management solutions would basically only associate metadata with images and capture that data in customized text fields.
But the Picturepark Content Platform opened up a new dimension: the collections information from MuseumPlus could now exist in controlled lists which then provide the metadata for all the tagging of the multimedia content in Picturepark. This significant benefit meant that updating only the list item would keep all the metadata for all the content items in Picturepark in sync - something that Museum Plus triggers automatically on change via the Connector.
The lists in Picturepark provided the option to capture a whole wealth of complete information about collection items, restoration notes, artists and much more. Each item such as an artwork from one list can be intelligently associated with items from the same or other lists, creating the power of Picturepark’s Semantic Relationships that chains relevant information together and provides helpful context and better search results.
“The lists are flexible to configure and allow matching of the exact data model of the collection management system which can be extended by as many additional dimensions in Picturepark as required.”
Andrea Huber, Service Delivery Manager
As if like magic, Picturepark suggests terms based on those semantic relationships. For example, a user can search for ‘French artists’ and receives relevant content that was never directly tagged with that term. To illustrate this with another example, locations were associated with country, region and city - all without the need to manually update each asset with full locational data.
Rights & Responsibilities
Picturepark was designed to track and provide information regarding digital rights; which is important to ensure the right consistency and preservation of content. Picturepark provides the necessary formats to all onwards channels that would be used to ‘consume’ content.
Through the Connector which levers the Picturepark REST API, MuseumPlus can query the ‘master’ visual for a collection or exhibition object. Then, the image for an artwork can be displayed together with a link to all multimedia contents in Picturepark; providing users with the option to view all associated media in a range of formats or resolutions - directly from within MuseumPlus.
Content Automation & File Naming Conventions (FNC)
Many people speak of artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning nowadays in abstract terms. AI offers new possibilities, suitable for a wide range of use-cases such as identifying and contextualizing information; also for complex scenes displayed in paintings found in the Princely Collections.
Still, the Princely Collections was left with a question: what were the options to automate existing content?
The Princely Collection already followed a file-naming convention. Together in collaboration with the Solutions Delivery Team from Picturepark, they optimized these conventions so that they would validate within a Regular Expression. Based on such a distinct pattern of information, the inbuilt Picturepark Business Rule engine can execute various tasks automatically.
This made workflows straight forward: by dragging & dropping a file named in the format GE00001_G01B01_PR_6803.tif, the system automatically associates it with the correct corresponding List item in Picturepark, and ultimately all the works information associated. Going even further, the file naming convention can even provide additional information about the chosen resolution, as defined by the photographer that originally captured the image.
Physical in Harmony with Digital: An Ideal is Realized
With Picturepark and MuseumPlus working in perfect sync, users can now quickly and easily find media assets using search and browse options that are tailored for Princely Collection items. The natural taxonomy of the physical collection is reflected in its digital counterpart, and the integrity of the collection’s metadata is preserved.
Access to images stored inside Picturepark are made available from within MuseumPlus. This has the key benefit of meaning that users no longer have to embark of long and wasteful workflows, involving manually hunting for digital photos of MuseumPlus records. Instead, thanks to the integration; users can see real-time previews, and tagging can be done in either system, because bi-directional synchronization ensures both systems are always kept up-to-date.
Original and print-resolution images are controlled and protected because Picturepark only shows guests and other non-authorized users watermarked versions. The museum’s goal of one global platform has been fully realized, and curators save countless hours when working with a heritage collection that is now more efficient and modern than ever.
Special thanks go to the Princely Collections for their cooperation, go to their website to find out more about them and how to tour the princely palaces. If you would like to learn more about this case study or would like to discuss your individual use case, please contact us at email@example.com
Image credits: © Bwag/CC-BY-SA-4.0