Museums.eu: gathering European Museums

Last week, we’re discovered with you this new website: Museums.eu, which aims to become the new European Museums network.
To know a little more, we’ve interviewed Sašo Zagoranski, Semantika CTO. Semantika is the agency that has created -among others- Museums.eu.

 

What led you to the creation of this network? Have you noticed a need?

Saso Zagoranski - DR

Saso Zagoranski – DR

We’ve been working with collections management for 10 years and our first “web initiative” started in 2006. We created a website that enabled One-Click publication of content from our Standards Compliant Collection Management System (Galis) to the internet. It was a website intended only for Slovenian galleries at first but it grew and it became Museums.SI – the portal for Slovenian museums and galleries – somewhere in 2009.

Due to our “let’s build it” mindset and focus on innovation and new technologies, we have, over the years, built a very capable and advanced platform that enables us to support new networks in other languages.

We started noticing that while similar national websites exists, there doesn’t seem to be a complete European portal, which would show up-to-date information about museums and galleries from across Europe.

Based on our research there certainly was a lot of interest for such a European network, which is why we decided to get to work and start building this amazing project, which is now Museums.EU. Based on the enthusiastic initial response from both users and museums, we really made the right decision.

Will this platform provide services for museums?
Is there a business model?

We’ve started Museums.EU with a vision that we’ll connect all museums in Europe in one central place. With about 10.000 museums and galleries already in the database, I believe we’re off to an excellent start. This vision also includes that Museums.EU is free for both visitors and museums.

Of course, sustainability is a very important component with projects of any kind and we’re very well aware of that. The fact that Semantika is already an established organization and that Museums.EU builds on existing infrastructure and our existing business models, helps us a lot as we’re not under any pressure and can focus on building a great product.

We offer many different additional services to museums, which build on the core services of the Museums.EU platform. These include:

  • Mobile applications built specifically for museums. Examples include the Manchester Museum or Ptuj Regional Museum;
  • A cost effective and standards compliant Collection Management System, which enables documentation of everything from collections, to complex procedures like restoration and object loans
  • Online Reservation System for activities (workshops, guided tours, …)
  • Build museum websites on top of our platform
  • Integration of published data back into websites of museums

The last one is very interesting. We’ve noticed that museums spend a lot of resources to develop a backend for their websites. One of the services we offer is the ability to completely develop and host a specialized museum or gallery site or to just use our backend for things like collections, exhibitions and events. An example would be a gallery in Slovenia who wanted to have their collections online but didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a custom online system. Our Collections Widget seamlessly integrates into their existing website. At a low monthly fee, they were able to integrate this in just a few hours.

CMS of Museums.eu - Credits: Semantika

CMS of Museums.eu – Credits: Semantika

The best thing about the system is that we have a “Click Once, Publish Everywhere” platform. A piece of content is published only once and is immediately distributed on all channels: on Museums.EU, on the museum’s website, in mobile apps…

These and other services that we’re developing all form a solid foundation for long-term sustainability, which ensures that Museums.EU will become one of the key cultural heritage resources in Europe.

How many visitors do you have so far on the website?
What’s your target?

Since we only launched the public beta of Museums.EU about two weeks ago, we’re currently not looking at the absolute numbers. Our primary focus now is to build an amazing website and mobile apps. We’re very happy with the response and new museums are signing-up daily.
We’re also not worrying ourselves with target numbers. We have seen many times in our other projects that if you build a great product, with interesting content, users react positively to that and usage starts to grow. A good example are our “Museums of the World” apps, which have already gathered over 150,000 downloads.

What’s are the next steps for Museums.EU?

We’re working on three main components at the moment: further improvements to the website; gathering more content and supporting museums with the Online CMS and finishing development of the Mobile Apps.

Arriving in August, Museums.EU Mobile apps will be available on all major platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows 8 and Windows Phone. The apps will show all the information that is available on the website but will feature GPS (location) awareness. With a small number of museums, we are also beta testing some new innovative mobile features, which will be released along with the apps.

What’s the difference between Museu.ms and museums.eu?

Museu.ms is a “sister site” of Museums.EU. “Museu.ms” (or “Museums of the World) displays all information about all museums across the world, while Museums.EU only shows European data. But they’re both based on the same platform, so if a museum in France enters an exhibition, this piece of information will be displayed on Museums.EU and Museu.ms.

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