Artstor and AMICO Combine Efforts to Distribute Digital Images for Museums and Higher Education
The Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO), a non-profit consortium of 39 museums, and Artstor, a non-profit organization sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, announced today that AMICO will be phasing out its independent operations as it focuses on supporting Artstor’s emerging leadership role in providing broad based access to what is expected to be the world’s largest single collection of online art images designed specifically for use by the education, research and arts communities. Both organizations expressed their belief that this important step will help museums, educational institutions, libraries, teachers, scholars, and students create and use this significant new community resource for the educational use of documented works of art. In phasing out its operations and endorsing Artstor’s role, AMICO affirms to the museum and educational communities that Artstor is well poised to carry forth and expand upon the mission that AMICO embarked on more than five years ago, when museum leaders recognized the vital need for an online library of high quality art images and associated data. While each museum that contributes content to AMICO will independently determine whether to make that content available through Artstor, both AMICO and Artstor expressed strong support for their continued sharing of their collections through Artstor.
AMICO’s operations are scheduled to conclude in August 2005. Until then, it will continue to support the independent distributors of its image library as well as the needs of its museum membership and library subscribers. During this period, AMICO will also be sharing with Artstor the experiences and knowledge gained over its years of operations as well as the software tools and standards for collection aggregation and distribution it has developed. AMICO and Artstor expect that this will help ensure a smooth migration of AMICO museum image contributions to Artstor for museums that choose to do so, as well as further bolster the confidence of AMICO subscribers that Artstor is upholding the high standards for content that characterized the AMICO collection.
“The art museums that make up AMICO have achieved something extraordinary by having created a uniquely effective cooperative program for making digital art images available,” said Michael Conforti, Chairman of AMICO, and director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. “AMICO’s critical and path-breaking work will continue to be advanced into the future through ARTstor’s broad community-wide initiative,” Conforti added, “and we hope that as many museums as possible will see the advantages of and making their work available through Artstor’s digital library.”
“I am certain that the opportunity for Artstor to draw from AMICO’s strengths will allow Artstor to build upon and extend the pioneering achievements of AMICO in order to create a valuable resource for education in fields that draw upon the visual arts,” stated Neil L. Rudenstine, former president of Harvard and Chairman of the Artstor board.
Founded in 1996, the Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO) is a not-for-profit consortium of institutions nationwide that have been collaborating to enable educational use of museum collection images and multimedia. With a library that numbers over 140,000 images, AMICO began as the vision of Maxwell L. Anderson, former director of the Whitney Museum and past President of the Association of Art Museum Directors, with a goal of providing educational institutions that license the AMICO Library with access to museum multimedia for educational use.
Anderson commented, “AMICO is today poised to hand off to Artstor an unparalleled range of experience in making rich multimedia broadly available to educational users. All of us associated with AMICO are extremely hopeful about Artstor’s future under the leadership of its Chairman Neil Rudenstine and its Executive Director James Shulman. Their commitment, together with the Mellon Foundation’s peerless advocacy of art museums and higher education, will yield great progress in making illustrated art collections widely accessible in the years ahead.”
“We have enormous admiration for Max Anderson’s original and bold vision,” said James Shulman, executive director of Artstor, “and the way he and the AMICO staff transformed that vision into a reality. Their collective talent and the Herculean efforts of the staff at the member museums have shown the enormous community-wide benefits of collaboration.”