Towards ensembles.org 2.0

M HKA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, is well-known as a home for contemporary art with (inter)national appeal and a breeding ground for experimentation. Building on Antwerp’s avant-garde tradition, M HKA profiles itself as a pioneer in the Flemish museum landscape. In order to also consolidate this leading role in a digital sense, the museum has set up ensembles.org. M HKA wants to continue investing in ensembles.org over the next few years, and has asked meemoo for advice regarding the platform’s future.

Ensembles.org is a publicly accessible knowledge database with multimedia information about items (such as artworks and archival materials), people (such as artists, critics and curators) and events (such as exhibitions). Museum employees and external professionals alike can enter and collect relevant data in ensembles.org. The web tool focuses on the sustainable digital management of this content and identifies links to create so called ensembles. These datasets and insights are made publicly available with the aim of placing all facets of art in a better context.

Challenge

A review of ensembles.org is required so that it can meet the digital challenges of the future. In particular, the platform needs an upgrade in terms of sustainability. On the one hand, the IT infrastructure needs to be assessed to find out whether certain components are due to be replaced. And on the other hand, more work needs to be done to create a sustainable policy strategy. M HKA called on meemoo to help map out a detailed plan for the future.

Organisations in the cultural field can benefit from meemoo’s expertise on digital heritage processes by requesting advice or information. In this case, the original request from M HKA led to a professional consultancy assignment, because the project demanded a specific approach and close collaboration.

A representation of the items, media, people and ensembles linked to the MONOCULTURE | A Recent History exhibition, September 2020 - April 2021 (source: http://ensembles.org/events/monoculture-a-recent-history)

Our role

In dialogue with M HKA, meemoo is making recommendations for the future trajectory of ensembles.org. Together, we’re taking a closer look at the existing framework and investigating whether it would be better to migrate it to a different platform. This project builds on three of our knowledge domains, i.e. digital strategy, metadata and linked (open) data. We’re also using our expertise on accessibility and reusing data to ensure this project is a success.

Meemoo has three roles in the project. Specifically, we’re helping to:

  • create a (digital) strategy for ensembles.org;

  • research the existing and desired IT infrastructure;

  • draw up an action plan with various scenarios where we recommend concrete actions.

Approach

We briefly explain the three phases of this consultancy assignment:

1. Creating a (digital) strategy

We started by setting up a strategy to achieve the digital goals of ensembles.org. We then collected input by exchanging ideas with M HKA employees and identified the requirements, experiences and methods used before defining the objectives we want to achieve. Sustainability was always central to this, and we also kept the following four aspects in mind:

  • content;

  • heritage communities;

  • revenues;

  • the organisation.

We agreed on certain performance factors and indicators to measure the strategy’s success.

2. Researching the IT infrastructure

In this phase, we’re taking a close look at the existing ensembles.org IT infrastructure and researching how it fits within the digital strategy. We’re checking this by comparing the current situation with the desired situation, and carrying out a survey to measure the web tool’s user-friendliness. These steps will form the basis for a proposal to optimise the infrastructure in terms of sustainability and ease of use.

This stage of the project is currently in full swing. The results will be made available in the course of 2021 and publication on CEST will follow.

3. A clear overview of recommended actions

We will compile the results from the two previous stages into a clear action plan aimed at the short and medium term. This will include concrete proposals to realise the strategy step by step, and look at how the IT infrastructure can serve this purpose. The action plan is divided into different work packages with regard to feasibility, and new profiles are being drawn up for the employees who will carry out these tasks.

This phase is currently still ongoing, with results expected in the course of 2021. These results will then be made available on CEST.

Partners

Do you have a question?
Contact Rony Vissers
Manager Expertise