Open systems, loosely coupled: Creating an integrated museum eCommerce system for the MCA

Paper
Keir Winesmith, USA

Published paper: Open systems, loosely coupled: Creating an integrated museum eCommerce system for the MCA

In 2011/12 the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) underwent a AUD$53 million redevelopment. The building works included the refurbishment of all galleries and offices, the addition of a new 5-story wing and two new rooftop venues. At the same time as the physical building was closed for redevelopment, from August 2011 to March 2012, the Museum's digital infrastructure was also being refurbished and, in many cases, replaced.

The MCA took this opportunity to look at its systems for ticketing, store point-of-sale, customer relationship management, membership, donations and the MCA website. The Museum also sought to add online ticketing, online membership, online donations, an online store and a museum-wide WiFi network.

This paper and talk outlines how we created an entirely new eCommerce framework using web APIs to connect open systems for ticketing, store, philanthropy and membership. It argues that in many cases, and especially for under-resourced cultural institutions, a selection of loosely coupled best-of-breed systems (preferably via open APIs) is preferable to attempting to build or buy an "all in one" solution. Further, the talk will discuss how this approach can be extended and applied in other institutional contexts.