Enjoy your visit, but please don’t touch the artwork

Detroit Institute of Arts relies on network surveillance technology to protect its priceless collection and improve the visitor experience

“With the Axis and Art Sentry solution, we’re able to maintain the delicate balance between protecting our collection and giving visitors an engaging experience with our art.” Eric Drewry, Director of Protection Services for the Detroit Institute of Arts.


When the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) decided to embark on an aggressive project to upgrade museum security, it was important that the solution be designed to protect the art collection without spoiling the visitors’ experience. DIA wanted discreet surveillance that would not only allow them to closely monitor activity in more than 100 galleries but would also alert security staff and caution visitors when someone got too close to a piece of art or attempted to touch it.


DIA turned to Art Sentry, an Ohio-based software development company and Axis partner, to implement an advanced museum security system. Art Sentry provided a solution that integrates its unique Art Sentry object protection software with Axis camera technology to help DIA detect and respond quickly to potential threats to its artwork and track which galleries generated the most incidents. The Axis modular surveillance units installed in each gallery simultaneously stream views from four highly-discreet, HDTV-resolution sensors (lenses) strategically mounted around the room. If an Axis sensor detects someone breaching an invisible protection zone, it triggers a pre-programmed message or audible alarm tone and immediately notifies security staff who can intercede if necessary. In addition, live video of the incident automatically streams to the museum’s security center for review and forensic evidence.


Since the audible alert was implemented, DIA has seen a dramatic reduction in policy violations related to an individual’s interaction with the artwork. Gallery security officers have also noticed a significant improvement in their interactions with visitors when addressing a violation. For instance, when DIA hosted a special exhibition that ran for five months, the museum didn’t receive a single visitor complaint about security in that gallery. DIA is also using incident data from the Art Sentry system to identify incident hotspots and take steps to remedy problems – from posting new signage to redirecting security staff to deploying physical barriers. Overall, the museum is spending significantly less in camera licensing fees because the AXIS F Series modular network cameras allow up to four Axis sensor units to share a single IP address through the Ethernet port.

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Video: Securing Priceless Artwork and Alerting Visitors to Gallery Etiquette
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