Louvre invests in art of asset management

Europe’s most-visited museum has tapped software from IBM Corp. and one of its business partners to help keep the Mona Lisa smiling on its wall, IBM announced today.

The Louvre Museum in Paris hired SQLI Group to upgrade its IBM Maximo Asset Management software installation to better coordinate business tasks including customer service, maintenance tasks, and power consumption and also keep closer tabs on tasks unique to caretaking of the world’s most famous art collection – maintaining the condition of paintings and sculptures. The museum handled more than 65,000 maintenance tasks in 2011 while admitting 8.8 million visitors.

“Making thousands of repairs, cleaning and maintenance visits per year to preserve the facilities and artwork while keeping the galleries available and accessible to visitors is a daunting undertaking,” says Metin Pelit, the department manger of computerized maintenance management system at the Louvre, in a press release. With “IBM software, we’re able to visualize our entire infrastructure and make better, more informed decisions.”

By aggregating data from individual IT systems in the museum, the Louvre’s IT staff can now apply analytics and predictive intelligence to its data, and see potential problems earlier. For example, maintenance staff could discover climate controls are not working as expected and repair them before that extra humidity causes damage to paintings that are hundreds of years old.

“All the paintings require very specific climate settings to be preserved, and then you have the security concerns to think about too,” said Dave Bartlett, vice-president of industry solutions for IBM, speaking at IBM’s Pulse conference in Las Vegas. “That shows some of the complexity that solutions like this can deal with.”

Before using software to manage its facility repairs, Louvre staff managed its workflow using paper, which is the same way they did it in 1911, when Italian immigrant Vincenzo Perugia hid in the museum overnight to steal the Mona Lisa from the museum. In May 2010, the Paris Museum of Modern Art was hit by the most costly theft in the history of French art. It was revealed that some security systems in the museum had not been working for weeks, allowing the thief to simply break a window to enter the museum at night.

IBM’s Maximo software monitors whether all the doors are locked and motion detection systems active.

IBM acquired Bedford, Mass.-based MRO Software Inc. in 2006 for $740 million in 2006, picking up its flagship product, Maximo Enterprise Suite. It’s now part of IBM’s Tivoli unit, under the Global Services division.

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