A sprawling software company has taken on ArtBinder art inventory management
Just over a decade ago, around the time of the release of Apple’s first iPad, gallery staff member Alexandra Chemla began to think there had to be a better way to share information about art for sale only through bulky binders.
With this, the idea of the ArtBinder collection management system was born. In the years that followed, Chemla quit her job at Gavin Brown’s firm and grew the business into an 11-person team that serves high profile clients including David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, Lisson and David Kordansky Gallery. ArtBinder works with over 400 galleries in 35 different countries.
Today, Chemla revealed that ArtBinder, which has over 750,000 objects worth an estimated $65 billion on its platform, has been acquired by Ontario–Volaris Group, an operating unit of Constellation Software. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Chemla—whose father is travel industry magnate and art collector Alexandre Chemla—says she wasn’t necessarily looking to sell the business, but the acquisition of Volaris came at the right time.
“It made a lot of sense,” she said. Customers “keep information critical to their business and their own operations with us that doesn’t necessarily translate into different systems. Software has a lifespan if you don’t keep developing it.
Volaris operates 120 businesses in more than 30 markets, from education to healthcare. As part of its arts and culture group, it owns GallerySystems, which provides collection management software and web publishing services to museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum and the Guggenheim, according to a statement on the ArtBinder acquisition.
Asked about the impact the acquisition might have on gallery patrons, Chemla said little would change on a day-to-day basis. However, she says, over time they will feel the impact of the additional infrastructure and resources.
Chemla plans to stay for the next six months as an advisor to help with the transition. Ten of the eleven staff members will make the transition; one leaves voluntarily as part of the merger.
“I love that Alexandra understood the need for this tool through her experience working in galleries,” said Bellatrix Hubert, Senior Partner at David Zwirner. As art fairs multiply, Hubert called ArtBinder “a complete game-changer for galleries. There’s been a before and an after. It’s hard to believe we’ve ever done business without it. It’s the only good customer-oriented mobile tool we have .
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