The Art of Security

The Art of Security

Protecting priceless masterpieces at the Worcester Art Museum

Located just an hour west of Boston, the Worcester Art Museum is world-renowned for its 35,000-piece collection of paintings, sculptures, photographic prints, drawings and new media. Spanning more than 5,000 years of art culture, the permanent collection includes paintings by some of the most well-known names in the art world— Monet, Gauguin, Cassatt and Whistler. Also included are pieces that span the ancient—such as the city of Antioch—to cutting-edge contemporary art. Because the collections housed in the Worcester Art Museum are priceless—and irreplaceable— providing a comprehensive security solution is essential.


Since 1896, the Worcester Art Museum has been providing residents and visitors to the greater-Boston area with a glimpse of some of the most famous pieces in art history. The 155,000-square-foot facility welcomes more than 100,000 visitors each year to appreciate its various works on display. Collections include American, ancient, Chinese, European, and Indian art; coins and medals; and even ancient buildings.

One of the most impressive features is a reconstructed French Benedictine Monk chapel room made of century’s old limestone. Because the artwork on display is often priceless, and cannot be replaced, providing security presents a special challenge, said Michael Warren, Worcester Art Museum security and safety manager.

“The institution’s most valuable assets are hung on the walls in public spaces,” Warren said. “This presents especially difficult challenges in protecting the assets from being touched, vandalized or stolen. Technology can assist in protecting these assets but the bulk of our effort is spent developing people that respond to customer needs as well as the security needs of the collection.”

Warren said the previous security system wasn’t cohesive and included six separate vendors to provide access control, video and alarm coverage. The alarm system, in particular, experienced many problems including multiple false alarms. With more than 250 employees—with varying levels of access—the Worcester Art Museum sought an easy-to-use access control solution that provided the strictest security and integrated with their existing video surveillance software management provider, Avigilon. Warren relied on their trusted security integrator, K&J Integrated Systems, for the best resolution.

K&J Integrated Systems is a full-service fire, security and electrical integrator serving greater New England. True integration delivers a single solution by combining multiple electronic systems. This creates synergy and cost savings, and most of all protects valued assets. In just 10 years, K&J Integrated Systems has achieved tremendous growth while still providing customers with the results they’ve come to expect and desire

Showing true concern and superior system knowledge, K&J Integrated Systems recommended Open Options’ premium access control software solution, DNA Fusion, for use with Authentic Mercury Security hardware.

“Our integrator explained how DNA Fusion worked and how Open Options as a company supports its local dealers and customers,” Warren said. “DNA Fusion appeared to be the most versatile and user-friendly access control product during our selection process and I liked the fact that the hardware was not proprietary.”


At the recommendation of their trusted system integrators, the Worcester Art Museum chose Open Options’ DNA Fusion as the access control management software provider. DNA Fusion provides a unified security platform including access control, video integration, and photo ID management in an open platform and best of breed approach by partnering with leading systems manufacturers. With DNA Fusion, the large museum can be easily managed via a standard thick client, a web browser, or Apple and Android smartphones.

“DNA Fusion is quicker and more intuitive, as if it were designed by a user. The ability to customize toolbars, for example, and to have granular control over user accounts has proved to be very valuable in our operation,” said Fran Pedone, the museum’s director of operations.

The Worcester Art Museum security team has embraced DNA Fusion and this seamless integration with their existing video and intrusion systems. The staff reports ease-of-use as one of the key benefits of DNA Fusion, which Pedone described as very important when training new employees to use the system.

“Navigating the system proved to be clear, efficient, and useful. Most controls and settings are apparent without the use of the included documentation, which itself is detailed and well-written.”

A high priority for the museum was to cover the entire perimeter of the facility with multiple layers of protection including video analytics, door contacts, and motion sensor technologies, said Warren.

“Open Options has allowed our museum to integrate all three technologies creating a user-friendly interface for monitoring and controlling the various systems,” he said.

The museum uses several security workstations distributed throughout the facility which are operated by security guards and managers.

Because the museum is closed to the public Mondays and Tuesdays, while other days have a varying operations schedule, they rely on DNA Fusion’s ability to recognize assigned authority and schedules to ensure proper access is being observed.

“Access levels and times are programmed based on business needs,” Warren said. “This is a new concept for most staff at the Worcester Art Museum, so we are taking this rollout slowly to ease people into the notion of secure areas that are off limits for some personnel.”

The museum also saved money on their current hardware and infrastructure because of the system integrations available. Avigilon VMS — a valued Open Options video integration partner — was the existing video surveillance provider for the museum. The ability to integrate with the video surveillance provider was key in the selection of Open Options’ DNA Fusion access control, Warren credited.

Open Options worked so quickly to accommodate an upgrade in the VMS, in fact, that Warren said he and his team were pleasantly “shocked.”

“When Avigilon added third-party camera support and digital pan and zoom to their video software product; Open Options responded quickly with an update to their DNA Fusion software to support the new features,” Warren said. “This was very important to us. We were impressed with how quickly Open Options enhanced the software to integrate with the new VMS edition based on our need for it.”

Worcester’s priceless collection is protected visually by more than 200 monitor points, which, when triggered, can be accessed from within the DNA Fusion application. The quick access zoom feature makes for a near immediate highlight of the cause of the trigger, which is invaluable when time is of the essence.

Badging can sometimes be a difficult process to manage with hundreds of employees. With DNA Fusion’s badge application, Fusion ID, capturing employee photos, information and printing badges was made simple. DNA Fusion integrates with the museum’s HID Fargo card printer which produces visually-rich, full-color credentials and is the fastest printer in its class.

For the museum’s security infrastructure, Open Options supplied access control panels from the leader in open platform hardware, Mercury Security. Some of the panels were fitted in existing enclosures while others were mounted in MCLASS enclosures from LifeSafety Power. Open Options and Mercury Security have worked together for more than 18 years with the common goal of providing a true open architecture access control solution. Mercury has the most extensive open platform access control hardware feature set along with the world’s largest install base with over three million controllers. The fact that multiple manufacturers support this hardware platform is what makes it open and allows the end user a valuable choice in software.

Warren said use of DNA Fusion will grow as the museum continues to refine its Emergency Preparation and Response Plan. The museum has a multi-year plan for expansion of access control throughout the facility and they intend to expand the system every year as more funds become available. Warren said he is confident based on their experience with Open Options and DNA Fusion that they have invested in a solid security provider.

“Open Options was not only capable of fixing the issues we experienced with our previous system, but also made it a priority to serve the customer’s needs in timely manner, which is unusual in most industries,” Warren said. “We have had a very positive experience with Open Options, Mercury, and the integration our team has put together and we appreciate the security it provides our treasured museum and its priceless contents.”

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Security Today.


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