Reviewed October 2020
Christy Anderson, Marketing/Administrative Assistant
Kimbel Library and Bryan Information Commons, Coastal Carolina University
In the words of the platform's creators, “Collecteurs is the world’s first digital museum of private collections: The Collective Museum of Private Collections,” and it has opened the art world to the 21st century. The digital platform invites collectors to digitize their physical collections, organize them virtually, and place them on public exhibit. From there, Collecteurs puts private art collections in the public spotlight.
The founders of Collecteurs are the art collecting duo Jessica and Ervim Oralkan. The idea came after seeing a need for such a system in their own art collection. They then spent years developing it at the New Museum’s cultural incubator before sharing it with the world. Now the platform is an established public benefit corporation, working to make the privileged world of art collecting more approachable.
As with traditional museums, Collecteurs uses established curators to curate exhibits. Pieces that would never be viewed publicly, much less hang together in a museum, can now be appreciated together virtually. Some even offer 3D/VR views of collections and studios. Visitors can scroll through hundreds of digitized original art pieces from collectors around the world. The museum can also be searched by names of artwork, artists, and collectors, as well as articles, hashtags, and interviews.
The resource offeres is an obvious help to private collectors who would like to not just preserve and manage their collections more efficiently, but share them freely, without concern of physical damage or preservation issues. The platform allows them to decide which pieces can be seen and by whom. Owners can choose to make their works public, community-only, anonymous, or completely private. Collecteurs utilizes client-side encryption, so even the site’s owners cannot access sensitive data.
Users can choose from three membership plans, ranging from free to $100 a month. Setting up a free profile is easy and allows visitors to view community-only resources. One of the required fields, however, asks the user to name three artists whose original works of art they own. This can be bypassed by typing “none,” but it does give the impression that access is not intended for everyone. This may be why the museum offers opportunities for visitors to become collectors by purchasing works from its Capsule Editions.
The site design is unique and creative. It is on brand for a modern museum, however, it also makes it difficult to navigate for less tech-savvy users. The vertically divided screens that scroll on one side, but not the other can be off putting, though they do offer a unique perspective of seeing the artists words and other works next to a particular piece.
The platform has created an accessible way for art lovers to see works by established artists and up-and-comers. Regardless of where a guest lives, there is an opportunity to learn about new artists from their works and interviews at no charge.
Collecteurs is definitely worth visiting. The platform stands to open the private art world to well established art lovers, educators, and new comers alike. It is a way for collectors to connect with each other and is a fascinating way to view the merging world of tech and art.