MARKHAM, Ontario, March 30, 2004 — The world's first multi-lingual Web site offering public access to the collection of a major art museum has gone live thanks to technology and expertise from Geac (TSX:GAC and NASDAQ:GEAC). Geac's Library Solutions division worked closely with the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (MRBAB) to develop the institution's French and Dutch language online presence, called FABRITIUS (www.opac-fabritius.be), which now features some 6,000 pieces from the museums' collections. About 2,000 of these entries currently include images of the works; eventually all will be illustrated.
Geac plans to work in partnership with the MRBAB to jointly market its solution to art museums around the world. “We are excited about the opportunity to expand the market for Geac's innovative Vubis Smart software beyond libraries, now that MRBAB has created a powerful, multi-media data format that enables diverse museum collections to be catalogued comprehensively in our system,” said Jon Brooks, managing director of Geac Library Solutions. “Multi-lingual markets in particular represent a unique opportunity for Geac. For example, in North America we see a natural fit for this solution in bilingual regions such as eastern Canada and the south-western United States.” With 100 Vubis Smart contracts already signed outside of North America and a successful selling program established in Europe, Geac Library Solutions plans to bring its latest product to the United States.
The origins of FABRITIUS date back to March 2000, when MRBAB initiated a research project aimed at creating a database for their collections. These include approximately 25,000 works of art- paintings, sculptures, drawings and posters as well as somedecorativeobjectsand furniture - encompassing ancient, modern and contemporary art. The goal of the project was to create a powerful tool for the computerized management of its catalogue by the institution's personnel over an internal network, and to make the collections of one of Belgium's principal museums more well-known and accessible to the public via the Internet. The name of the system, FABRITIUS, honours Carel Fabritius, a Dutch painter from the 17th century, and also represents an acronym for Fine Arts BRussels InTernet and Intranet USers.
“The growing number of visitors and requests for information testifies to the public's interest in this on-line computerized catalogue,” said Helena Bussers, MRBAB Director. “We're proud to have collaborated with Geac to pioneer this technology for museums, and we look forward to adding more art works to our database in the months ahead.”
For reasons of safety and confidentiality, certain information is only available to scientific personnel. For the general public, the description of a work of art includes details similar to that found in a catalogue (inventory number, title, name of the artist, dimensions, etc.), as well as its location in the museum. The system uses hyperlinks to navigate easily from one object to another, according to various criteria (type of work, artist's name, iconography, etc.). Data is entered into the bilingual FABRITIUS system in French and Dutch through an input interface, and the end user chooses the language in which he prefers to operate.
Geac Vubis Smart provides foundation for FABRITIUS
To implement this catalogue, MRBAB joined forces with Geac, whose Vubis Smart software is already used in the institution's library computer systems. Vubis Smart uses the database management system Caché®, developed by InterSystems. The Museums conceived an original data description format in Vubis Smart for the fine art collections. Its association with other formats (Smart, Unimarc, Marc 21, etc.) already present in Vubis Smart has enabled the creation of this powerful, bilingual (even trilingual) software, which now can be used for automating both library and museum operations.
The FABRITIUS format is based on the Category for the Description of the Works of Art, a methodology developed by the Getty Research Institute – J. Paul Getty Trust. By adopting a standard recognized by the highest museum authorities, the originators of the project are aiming at international recognition. It also is consistent with guidelines developed by the Information Society and various government authorities. A pilot of FABRITIUS was presented at the “Museums and the Web” conference in Charlotte, North Carolina in March 2003, to industry acclaim.
Geac has been selected by InterSystems to receive a Caché Innovator Award for Vubis Smart, recognized for the excellence and creativity used with MRBAB in developing FABRITIUS.
Geac (TSX: GAC and NASDAQ:GEAC) is a global enterprise software company for Business Performance Management, providing customers worldwide with the core financial and operational solutions and services to improve their business performance in real time. Further information is available at www.geac.com or through e-mail at email@example.com.