Jun 26, 2019


The number of art objects in the world is steadily growing. Good news, but how does it translate into real life art accessibility?

Art market growth doesn’t mean art accessibility

According to recent analytics, in 2018 ended with over 1 billion art objects in the world. It is somehow reassuring to know that humanity has been, is, and will keep creating art: back in 2003 the number of art objects was at 726 million, which indicates an impressive rate of growth.

The art market is steadily growing. Sales in the global art market in 2018 reached $67.4 billion, up 6% year-on-year. This second year of positive growth brought the market to its second-highest level in 10 years. In 2018, global sales in the online art market reached an estimated $6 billion, up 11% year-on-year. Since 2003 the number of museums and galleries grew by 25% and is now at 55 000 internationally. The number of employees across 11 sectors associated with the arts is now at approximately 50 million worldwide. Needless to say, the number of creatives that might or might not self-identify as professionals is astounding: the online art community DeviantArt alone has over 40 million users. 

One the one hand, this is great news. On the other, only less than a half of art objects worldwide are easily accessible by the public, the rest being hidden away in museum storages. Half of the world’s cultural heritage is basically hidden in a massive blind spot, with little to no information about it available online. Could digitisation be the cure?

Number of objects

High-tech digitisation solution for the world of art

.ART has figured out a stable, accessible and scalable solution for both digitization and information storage for art objects – Digital Twin. From the structural point of view, Digital Twin is based on “ObjectID” – a universal art object identification standard developed by J. Paul Getty Trust and adopted by UNESCO, ICOM, and major law enforcement agencies, including Scotland Yard and Interpol. Technologically, it is based on the Domain Name System (DNS), which has withstood almost four decades of worldwide usage thus being the most reliable Internet infrastructure.

Artificial intelligence, big data analysis, Internet of things, augmented reality, blockchain and other huge developments are gradually becoming a part of everyday life. Within such a context it seems strange for museums to be limited by psychical space. A museum that is fully digitised can have a much wider audience, while its visitor could go on a journey of related art-objects right from his smartphone. When there are no physical boundaries, there will be less mental ones. Easy access to art though digitisation promotes freedom of expression, tolerance and emotional intelligence.

Digitisation as an antidote to overtourism

Meanwhile, digitisation can also save the world from the growing issue of overtourism. “The Louvre is suffocating,” its workers’ union said last month after going on a strike – the museum has been declared the world’s most popular again, having welcomed a whopping 10.2 million visitors in 2018. China, for instance, could create a digital copy of all of the world’s most important museums, making this immense volume of art legacy easily accessible, while channeling the financial stream from international tourism into its own economy.

All in all, digitisation is a treasure chest of opportunities. It doesn’t just make art more accessible, it creates new ways of seeing well-known pieces through their enlargement, movement and separation of various layers. Digital Twin enables art accessibility, recognizability, education, evidence of provenance, protection, monitoring, evaluation and monetization of art objects while turning them into valuable and liquid digital assets.

Also published on Medium.

.ART Team
.ART Team
members are global citizens with interests ranging from art history to social justice. If we had an office cat we would have called it Basquiat.