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I The Byte-Sized Collections ofArt Museums Maxwell L. Anderson In the few minutes at my disposal, I will touch on both current and impending opportunities and challenges facing art museums as primary "content providers " in the electronic age. Let me be clear about a couple of matters at the outset: I am an unreconstructed connoisseur in a world of intellectual relativism , an adherent to the belief that an art museum is primarily a place to encounter original works of art, and only secondarily a bazaar, eatery, and nightclub . It should, in my antiquated view, exist to champion authenticity and originality in a world gone mad with simulacra of cultivation and the substitution of soundbites for insights. Furthermore , I don't consider information technology to be a panacea for what ails museums. If a collection is modest in size or quality, a networked computer won't help that. As larger museums struggle to connect disparate departments with competing philosophies, conservative attitudes about the information age, and other demands on the institution for its survival, the results have been slow and usually less innovative than at smaller institutions. By way of example, the Krannert Art Museum of the University of Urbana-Champaign in Illinois was arguably the first in the nation to explore the potential of Mosaic, the compelling new multimedia program available over the Internet. The Krannert simply posted a so-called home page on the Internet with attractive color photographs of its exterior and a few objects in the collection, and was followed by other larger institutions , but only slowly. Even today, the National Museum of American Art and the Dallas Museum of Art are the only large American art museums using the Internet broadly for image dissemination , while a host of smaller museums have feistily begun probing the potential of this new friendly interface. The intellectual property of art museums need not be handled exclusively by highly paid cogitators. At the risk of sounding self-serving, I would like to acquaint you with some of the digital goings-on at the Carlos Museum. Some Maxwell L. Anderson, Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, 571 South Kilgo Street, Atlanta, GA 30322, U.S.A. 242 Intellectual Property Rights and the Arts days ago, a nineteen-year old was in our Exhibition Design Studio in Atlanta, merging images through Adobe Photoshop with a virtual reality program called Virtus Walkthrough, and configuring, with the review of our chief designer, a 3D walkthrough of our upcoming exhibitions. This same student helped us prepare a 3D tour of an exhibition planned for the Olympics, and by dropping digitized images at a cost of90 cents per image into a PhotoCD and then transferring them into an inexpensive software program, we produced a demo that was presented to the Atlanta City Council and won an inkind grant towards the exhibition, worth well over a hundred thousand dollars. We now plan to offer upcoming exhibitions to corporations and foundations in this way via CD-ROM, and the NEH is interested in setting up a mechanism so that shows can be reviewed in this way by peer panels in the future. The next step is for museums to offer visitable exhibitions to each other over the Internet, and that day is coming sooner than we can imagine. The bookshop is beginning to market our published titles on-line, and to receive orders bye-mail. We ultimately hope to eliminate expensive mailer-order flyers entirely, and provide an online service for direct sales by electronic means, or e-cash, without printing costs. More dramatically still, we are finding that producing a CD-ROM instead of a softcover exhibition catalogue may be cost-effective, and are producing our first electronic catalogue this spring at a cost of under $20,000. We are able to keep production cost down, I hasten to add, by using a neighboring university's multimedia lab and the time and talent of its undergraduates and graduate students . Our sales projections are predicated on the following observations: if three to five percent of exhibition-visiting Americans, on average, buy catalogues , the market is far too small to be profitable for a museum our size. But if...


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