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National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art Adopts Active-Passive RFID Solution

The RFID system, provided by EPC Solutions Taiwan, is designed so that the museum can view the real-time location of artwork on display or being moved within its warehouse.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 03, 2014

The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art (NTMOFA) has launched a hybrid passive and active radio frequency identification system to manage the movements of its artwork and visitors into and out of its warehouse, and to identify the locations of works of art at one its 24 exhibit halls. The solution, provided by EPC Solutions Taiwan, includes passive and active RFID-enabled carts, fixed passive RFID portals at the warehouse egresses, passive tags on art and Futaba Electronics Taiwan software to manage the collected read data. According to T.H. Liu, EPC Solutions Taiwan's president, the system—which was taken live this summer—also includes active readers in the warehouse area to read and identify the locations of badged personnel and RFID reading carts that transport artwork.

With a main building spanning 37,953 square meters (408,520 square feet) and an outdoor sculpture park covering 102,000 square meters (1.1 million square feet), the NTMOFA claims to be Asia's physically largest art museum. The museum contains approximately 20,000 works of art from around the world, either on display or in storage. The building includes three floors, as well as a basement measuring 14,600 square meters (157,150 square feet), allocated for the exhibits.

The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art has launched a hybrid passive and active RFID solution to manage the movements of its artwork and visitors into and out of its warehouse.
To ensure that the artwork in storage or on display within the exhibits does not end up missing, the museum had been using an RFID-based system since 2006 consisting of proprietary 433 MHz active RFID tags that staff members wore when entering the warehouse (to track their movements), and the same 433 MHz active tags attached to high-value artwork on display in the exhibit halls. RFID readers captured the tags' ID numbers, and the museum's software determined if a piece of art was moving, while also creating a map of workers' routes within the warehouse, to ensure that they did not remove a piece of art from the facility without authorization.

Tagging all of the artwork was impossible, however, due to the active tags' size—5 centimeters by 10 centimeters (2 inches by 3.9 inches)—and cost (about US$25 per tag), and the tags used on the art tended to provide false alerts, indicating a piece of art was being moved when, in fact, it was not. The active tags were equipped with built-in motion sensors that often triggered the false alarms themselves. What's more, the solution did not provide location data regarding works of art in transit on wheeled carts between the warehouse and the exhibition halls.

EPC Solutions Taiwan provided a system that resolved these issues, by attaching an EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive tag to each of the 20,000 pieces of art within its collection. The deployment uses Alien Technology ALN-9654 tags for non-metallic art and EPC Solutions tags for metal sculptures. EPC Solutions' FlexAnt reader antennas, in the form of coaxial cables, were installed behind the walls on which the artwork was exhibited, thereby providing real-time read data without requiring active RFID tags on the art pieces.

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