By Kavita Sherman
Kevin Goodman remembers taking field trips as a child to view Cleveland Museum of Art exhibits, tour the grounds, and learn about early Cleveland philanthropists, such as Jeptha H. Wade and John Huntington. Stories about the art museum and the industrialists who made CMA possible filled Goodman with adventure and inspiration.
“Those school trips made light bulbs go off in my world,” Goodman says. “I would think about those people and their stories and how they contributed to the beauty I was seeing. It made me want to do the same.”
Four decades later, Goodman — now the managing director and partner at BlueBridge Networks, a data center services company offering enterprise class, cloud-based data storage and recovery —is following through on his desire.
In July CMA selected BlueBridge Networks to build a cloud-based storage solution to provide long-term archival preservation of CMA’s digital assets. Additionally, BlueBridge donated up to $600,000 to CMA. The donation, along with BlueBridge’s additional community contributions this year, brings the company’s philanthropic giving to nearly $1 million.
“We live in a data-centric world,” Goodman says. “By supporting CMA, we’re helping them remain relevant and accessible to the populations they interact with. It’s just good karma.”
Lately, CMA’s cutting-edge, interactive technology is making headlines. The BlueBridge project is the latest link in CMA’s technology chain —a partnership that is proving easier than expected, thanks in part to BlueBridge’s downtown Cleveland proximity, according to Jane Alexander, the CMA’s chief information officer. “The CMA team was won over by BlueBridge’s offerings,” Alexander says.
Initially, the museum had planned to host the archival repository in house while including all of CMA’s digital assets, ranging from photos of artwork, conservation efforts, installations, and events to artwork created using time-based media, such as audio, video, and computer programs. However, “the cloud” provided by BlueBridge Networks offered more advantages. With cloud computing, Alexander says she expects to achieve more efficient technology management and cost savings, as well as the ability to retrieve, download, and share CMA’s digital assets easily.
The scope of the BlueBridge-CMA project is enormous. BlueBridge’s custom-designed solution calls for moving content from more than 3,800 gold DVDs and more than 10 terabytes of digital records to the company’s Enterprise cloud for permanent archiving. Additionally, BlueBridge included a disaster protection component for added security. Finally, CMA is preparing descriptions for each digital file being stored so the files can be found later.
In addition to the BlueBridge partnership, several other technology projects have launched recently at the museum, including Gallery One, where art, technology, and interpretation are blended to inspire visitors to explore the museum’s permanent collection, and ArtLens, the museum’s iPad application, which is available online through the App Store. These projects invite museum goers to interact with the permanent art collections and get social.
For instance, as visitors play in the “Strike a Pose” gallery, they twist and contort to match the pose of a specific work, which also attracts other visitors to the fun. In Gallery One, a 40-foot Collection Wall makes up the largest multi-touch screen in the United States. The 150 Christie micro tiles display the 3,800-plus objects currently on view at the museum. Visitors can then save favorite artworks from the Collection Wall to a running list on their ArtLens and let that app guide them on a customized tour.
According to Alexander, other technology initiatives are also providing more access to CMA’s collections. These include switching the museum’s internal and public websites to a flexible, open-source content management system and custom-developing a SharePoint-based collection catalog and management system.
“It’s really getting a lot of buzz in the museum world,” Alexander says. “All of these projects have really put CMA on the map for technology. But it’s our world-class art that is at the forefront of everything we do.”
On Sept. 18 Alexander and Goodman will be part of CBC Magazine’s Amplify panel discussion on the state of cloud computing. With organizations expected to spend $112 billion over the next six years on cloud-related technologies, many companies think jumping on the cloud computing bandwagon is necessary to business success. The two-hour session, which includes lunch, will help businesses decide if cloud computing is right for them.