The 16th National Museum Publishing Seminar took place June 12-14 in Boston. A biannual conference, it attracted a broad group of about 200 museum publishers, from the smallest college museum or UK art book publisher, to the Met, Getty, and Yale University Press. Yale’s John Donatich was the keynote speaker on Saturday and gave a rousing talk on “Why Books Still Matter.”
With two years to prepare, the program was well-conceived, and the participants well prepped. Most of the museums are grappling with integrating digital into their organization charts, so time was spent discussing what that might look like. Museums like SFMoMA have one “Chief Content Officer” (Chad Coerver) overseeing both books and online, while the Met, for instance, has 70 people in its digital group alone. Many museums like the Menil Collection, have one or two people who do it all.
At the last meeting in Chicago in 2012, there was much talk and a presentation of the Getty Foundation’s Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI). Now the project has proven itself, and museums like Art Institute of Chicago, LACMA and Washington Museum are moving to create online publishing for collection catalogues. There is also a lot of work being done around archival material – from books to monographs, museum publications, etc. The behemoth Met created a MetPublications section on its site, where books can be browsed, bought and some even printed on demand. (Associate Publisher Gwen Roginsky says that even the curators are happy with the quality.) Print books were scanned, and are housed on the Google Books platform. The Guggenheim, which has much of its collection available online, has an ambitious program that allows users to buy and download many monographs, but the download numbers have been disappointing. Read More