ArtifaxEvent at the Guggenheim

James Powell - May 31, 2019

At our latest ArtifaxEvent North American User Group we interviewed Brenda Gray, the Director of Theater and Production Services at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The implementation at the Guggenheim was interesting for several reasons, not least because of the Rotunda, the museum’s famous spiral gallery, is effectively a single room on several floors.

During the interview, Brenda gave a behind-the-scenes look at the implementation process, discussing how ArtifaxEvent solved a range of issues at the organization, and what it’s been like at the museum since going live with ArtifaxEvent.

ArtifaxEvent at the Guggenheim
Guggenheim photos

What is your history at the museum?

My day job for the past five years has been as production manager for the Peter B Lewis Theater at the Guggenheim. I’ve been around the museum since 1999—I used to work as a lighting designer for touring dance companies, but when I’d come home to New York, I’d work at the museum on exhibition lighting.

How were you identified as the Production Lead for Artifax?

When I started in my role at the theater, I was very quickly frustrated that I had to check multiple calendars before I scheduled anything. This excess of calendars was an issue that the organization had tried to resolve previously but without success.

When the calendar issue came up again I volunteered to work with the new Chief Information Officer on the solution. With this new door open, I did a lot of research into the operational issues we were having. Once I dived into it, I discovered that security was checking 6 calendars and then they’d check the website before confirming the requirements for the day.

We also found that with our existing Briefing Form system, all operational departments were getting 300 Excel documents per year with huge amounts of detail about booking requirements. Staff would then copy and paste from these forms and make yet more documents which required constant updating. And as these forms were coming in, more calendars were being created.

Can you explain how you gathered the requirements from the various departments and how you filtered them? Who made the final configuration decisions?

The first couple of tries, I called everyone in to big meetings to discuss requirements and current practice, but this was difficult due to the variety of challenges the different departments were having. So, then I sat down with departmental representatives individually. I used the information from these sessions to work with James from JCA to set up the system before presenting it to the users for feedback.

Can you give some examples of what you are now using ArtifaxEvent to achieve?

The various Excel Spreadsheets the Guggenheim had been using have been replaced by a standard report which pull the up to date information that has been entered into the system in real time.

Guggenheim Artifax Report Screenshot
Guggenheim Artifax Report Screenshot

Using ArtifaxEvent, the Guggenheim has been able to produce documents that look very similar to what departments were having to create manually but focus the information depending on what the audience needs. The facilities team need one view:

Guggenheim Artifax Screenshot Facilities Calendar
Guggenheim Artifax Screenshot Facilities Calendar

Visitor Services needs another

Guggenheim Artifax Screenshot Tours
Guggenheim Artifax Screenshot Tours

How has your role changed since you got involved with Artifax?

There’s been no official change to my role. I do get more phone calls, but I find it interesting finding solutions to user questions. I also have a much better sense everyone’s challenges, so I’m a little more empathetic with both sides.

I also enjoy the projects at the museum that bring different departments together. And the ArtifaxEvent project has done that. I have a fresh understanding of why various issues or confusions may have happened. And this is certainly a unique chance to make them less likely moving forward.

Find out more

Ready to discover more about ArtifaxEvent? Learn more about the industry-leading venue and event management software for cultural organizations here. Ready to schedule a demo or request pricing? Contact us here.

James Powell's avatar


James Powell

James joined Artifax in 2000 before moving to Philadelphia in 2011. He now implements ArtifaxEvent for North American clients. Unless you have a lot of time to kill, never ask him about music or why cricket is better than baseball.


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