DATABASE AND INFORMATION SYSTEM FOR

CONTEMPORARY ART INSTITUTIONS                                   - Technical infrastructure of the project -  click here

 

Project Description

This project is intended for the cultural institutions in Macedonia. Its main aims are to connect the contemporary art institutions as well as to standardize the art institution working.

The project includes 4 institutions:

  1. Skopje Museum of Contemporary Art
  2. Museum of the City of Skopje
  3. Art Gallery – Skopje, Daut Pasha Hamam
  4. Art Gallery – Bitola

          The idea of the project existed since 1998. At the beginning, the Center worked on the already made database, which, during the time, turned out to be backward (data could not be transferred to the Internet, and the implementation of visual documentation was impossible). That was the main motivation for building another (new) database for contemporary arts, which, as an idea and to a certain extent got started in 1998. After defining certain starting points and after the idea was proposed to and accepted by the four largest Macedonian institutions in the field of contemporary arts, the Contemporary Art Center begun with the project in the beginning of 2000.

The Center, according to already established three-year plan, started the realization of the project in 2000, trough analysis of the activities and the departments of the largest museum – Skopje Museum of Contemporary Art. The meetings were held in the offices of the Center, because of the Center’s equipment, the Internet connection, and possibilities for examination of the appearance and the scheme of the old database. Also, during this period, there were meetings held with assigned cooperatives from the other three institutions.

            The primary idea was to start developing the Database in Microsoft SQL Server 7.0. At the moment, only the local database (located in the institutions) is completed. While creating the database, strong attention was paid on the data security, although the local servers are not directly connected on the Internet, i.e. they are part of the Intranet, consisted by the involved institutions.

          The client application is created in Inprise Delphi 5.0 by using ODBC for connection in the SQL database. In the process of designing of the client application, specific attention was paid on as less as possible inclusion of АctiveX components, and to the smallest possible size of the forms, so they could be used on the present equipment at the institutions.

          This software allows input of data in the database, use of data trough filters and reports, updating of data about the artist, the art work, the exhibition, the exhibition venue; input of whole documentation about the specific data (trough scanning of slides, photographs, drafts, audio recordings, paper clips, library records, etc.). This documentation will allow data input in original languages, which will consent to one of the main ways of institutional expertise (input of the original name of the: artist, institution, art work, etc.).

          As an important element, it is worth noting that the operating standards of ICOM (International Council of Museums) are implemented in all of the steps.

Since January 2000, there have been approximately forty meetings with the cooperators assigned by the institutions. In this basic phase, the types of fields and the procedure of input have been agreed. In the second phase, from October 2000, we have started with the process of revision and in that order we held some thirty meetings where organization and input procedure of the database were discussed, as well as the procedure of data sharing among institution departments and among institutions.

The next phase of the revision is working on the filters, criteria, and reports, as one of the most important segments of the database. This process is to be completed by March 2001.

The test phase, which is conditioned by the hardware, will follow this process.

          The software includes local databases placed on the local servers; client applications located on the workstations out of which the data will be entered, software for distribution of data from local to main server, as well as Internet applications which export data to the Internet users. The software will enable search of the information as well as printing of reports.

          The next phase will start with technical equipping of the four mentioned institutions:  for each institution there will be provided two workstations, one server, network equipment, and equipment for Internet connection.

          After the installment of the equipment, the software installation will follow, as well as the training of the personnel, which would work on the client applications for data input.

          In addition, these four institutions will be connected among themselves in order to exchange data and to place that data on the Internet.

The project is not restrictive, but due to the difficulties with funding, it encompasses these four institutions only, with a possibility to implement other cultural institutions from Macedonia.

 Participants (Institutions and Individual Participants):

Each of these institutions has assigned personnel for the analysis and revision:

I          Skopje Museum of Contemporary Art

      

 

II       Museum of the City of Skopje

     

III       Art Gallery "Skopje" - Daut Pasha Hamam

        

IV        Museum, Institute and Gallery - Bitola

       

Steps of the Project

 

 

A.

Year 1

Analysis, January - July, 2000

Software Production, July 2000 - March 2001

Testing of Software, March - May, 2001

 

B.

Year 2

Hardware infrastructure including connectivity

Software Installation

Trainings

Support

 

C.

Year 3

Support

Time period

1.03.2000 – 1.03.2003

 

Partners, Sponsors

                    - Arts Council of Switzerland - Pro Helvetia, East-West Program, has granted CAC Skopje for the development of the software.

                   - Foundation Open Society Institute – Macedonia, has generally granted CAC Skopje for the project.

 

            Actual addressing of issues

                    At the present, the Center is concluding the software structure – creating of the client application in Delphi. The Center is also in the phase of discussing the implementation of the network: which network equipment should be used, licenses for data transfer, etc.

          After completion of the client application, and corresponding with the test-phase, creation of the main database will start, where data from the local databases will be distributed. In this phase, dynamic web pages for data access for Internet users will be implemented. This data is consisted of artists, biographies, art works, exhibitions, and publications. The Page design is executed in Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev by use of ASP (Active Server Pages) technology. A web - graphic designer is being consulted for the final look of the pages. We are planning to finish This phase till the end of June 2001, and with that the production of the software components in this system will be concluded.

          In addition, the Center is operating the process on: analysis of the technical possibilities, such as: ways of connecting the institutions, inter-institutional data exchange, priority data, etc.

      Difficulties in implementation

             So far, there were no misunderstandings or difficulties in cooperation with the experts. The only problem is the issue of the complete equipment needed for the project, as the fact that the institutions do not possess it is more than obvious, but that problem is to be reviewed and worked on in the next phases.

          A slight, perhaps not very important problem that can be mentioned is the communication with the experts from the institution from Bitola. Due to the distance between the cities, they couldn’t be present at all of the meetings organized in the Center but only on some.

Anyhow, they were informed about the progress and current work and consulted about all issues.

 Responses to this project

                        Anticipation that this project will arouse positive reactions is confirmed. Other institutions expressed their interest in the project, but, as was already stated, due to the difficulties with the funding, now it is almost impossible to get other institutions involved. Nevertheless, it does not mean that in near future, if there would be enough funding, they would not be connected to the project. In fact, the goal of this project is to connect all of the cultural institutions in Macedonia.

Regarding the responses of the press it is worth noting that so far there have been three interviews about the project with two of the largest press agencies in Macedonia - "Makedonija Denes" and "Dnevnik", which confirms the fact that the wider audience is also interested.

  Benefits of this project

            With this project, one of the biggest problems of these institutions will be solved: this will help eliminate the old-fashioned way of documenting, archiving, card categorization of the collections, repeating of the tasks for each exhibition, etc. Same data will be available for the Internet users as well.

          As the next phase, a virtual presentation of exhibition venues of these institutions is planned. In that way, the custodians would be able to have a precise insight for each exhibition, as is in the present moment and even before it is installed. Also, this type of the virtual instalment of an exhibition would be an opportunity for an educational development for the pupils, students, artists, which will allow them easier and more acceptable solving of the problems (the problem of fulfilment of an exhibition venue, compositional placement of the art works, etc.) and will bring them closer to the practice.

Аssistance to groups

 -          Assistance to the Macedonian artistic community trough electronic storing of their portfolios by the institutions, documentation about their works, placement on the Internet.

-          Assistance to the interested target groups with an access to needed information

– art historians, curators, artists, aestheticians, students, pupils, journalists, etc.

 Encouraging initiation and ideas

          - The project is accepted and the institutions are eager to see it working as soon as possible, as the necessity of modernization in the working process is required.

          - Almost all ideas proposed by the leaders of the project were accepted (processing of data should be divided among departments, which helps avoid duplicate data entries easy upgrading of data by any other department; possibility of the database user to log into the other three institutions involved in the project; possibility to use virtually the venue of the institution on Internet etc.).

          As very important, we can single out the information that some of the institutions in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, which are geographically closer to the Center, are interested to be involved in the project. In that way, the Center started to spread the idea of the Internet Database, not only with-in the borders of Macedonia, but more widely in the region of the Balkans.

The integration of the cultural institutions in this region will be assisted by a positive outcome of this process.

 Long-term effects

          - Electronic preservation of data.

          - Easier and advanced way for process of work in the institutions.

          - Avoiding of the unnecessary repeating of activities in different departments.

          - Better transparency during the working process.

          - Exchange of data with other institutions.

          - Placement of data on the Internet.

 

 TECHNICAL INFRASTRUCTURE