How the Jewish Museum manages rights for rotating exhibitions with DAM software

May 7, 2019

Located in the Warburg mansion on New York City’s Museum Mile, the Jewish Museum has a permanent collection of nearly 30,000 works of art, ceremonial objects, and media along with rotating exhibits.

The Museum’s collection of digital assets is available to a wide range of people, including the marketing and communications department, program department, and outside users like reporters. Using NetX DAM software has made managing the rights of temporary exhibitions easier and has helped make image access simpler.

Managing rights for rotating exhibitions

Many of the Museum’s exhibitions involve artworks outside their permanent collection. Because of this, the museum has limited rights when it comes to how they can use images for promotional purposes. The museum’s rights and reproductions coordinator is in charge of sourcing and clearing images for use.

Before implementing NetX, the rights and reproductions coordinator managed which digital assets were cleared for usage in a spreadsheet by manually moving assets to a public folder and updating a Google doc when the assets were ready for use. The system was cumbersome and hard to keep current.

Another problem was that images weren’t available to the marketing and communications teams until the very last minute, which made it difficult for them to plan ahead with their deadlines.

The museum needed a simpler workflow in order to manage which assets were available for use, and when.

Simplifying workflows with NetX

When Carlos Acevedo, Digital Asset Manager for the Jewish Museum, came on board, he began the process of implementing a DAM that would allow the rights and reproductions coordinator to create a more streamlined, self-service model. He settled on NetX after conducting internal interviews and creating a list of requirements.

“We use NetX to give people access to as many images as possible while still having a level of transparency about what things are cleared for,” says Acevedo. This creates a self-service model for users, improves lead times for the marketing team, and reduces hassle for the rights and reproductions coordinator.

The rights and reproductions coordinator now works in a NetX folder that is invisible to all other users. Once assets are uploaded and metadata added, they transfer assets to a public folder.

They also upload documents like signed contracts, licensing agreements, and copies of email conversations into NetX. These are then linked to create a relationship with the corresponding images, saving the rights and reproductions coordinator time because they can find exactly what a rights holder said about usage.

Managing rights with metadata

Three metadata fields explain how an asset can be used:

  • Permissions – Uses that have been cleared (All Uses, Curatorial, Marketing, Digital, Press Kit, Do Not Use, etc. When an asset has the metadata value of Do Not Use, an attempt to download the image triggers a download approval request)
  • Exceptions – Any exceptions to clearances in the Permissions field (for example, an image cleared for All Uses except Social)
  • Restrictions – A free text field used to communicate any additional information (for example, that an image requires layout approval by the rights holder before use)

“That gives our users in different departments more lead time to know what’s available, instead of waiting for everything to come in the last minute,” says Carlos. It also allows users to request that the rights and reproductions coordinator clear images for certain purposes.

Retiring expired assets

The team at the Jewish Museum also uses expirations and AutoTasks within NetX. Assets can be set to expire on a certain date, after which an AutoTask automatically sets the attribute value to “Do Not Use.” This prevents people from downloading the asset after the exhibition is over.

After the exhibition is over, the images are also moved from publicly available folders to an administrative folder.

The result is a workflow that reduces complexity and means no one is ever stuck wondering if they can use a specific asset, says Carlos. "NetX really helps our users make more informed decisions and makes things less stressful for everyone."

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