The art world has a new way to distinguish itself online, now that new websites using the .art domain have hit the internet highway. Websites using the .art domain represent the first slate of early adopters who were invited to either move their existing website domains (or start new ones) from .com, .org or other mainstream domains to .art.

The .art address is expected to become an easy way to quickly identify sites that are part of the international art world in the same way that .org is a shorthand signifying a non-profit organization.

Many early adopters were invited to take part in the worldwide launch in 2015 or 2016 in anticipation of the 2017 public release. Still others were invited to apply in the initial phase in 2012 when ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) first let it be known a new top-level domain (TLD) was available for .art. (Examples of TLDs include the domains .com, .org, .net and others).

Now the art world at large and the general public will have their chance to be part of the internet innovation. Registration for .art domains opened on February 8 to art world professionals only and continues to May 9, 2017. Afterwards, .art domains will be open for the taking by the general public.

So far, early adopters include artists (performing and visual), organizations, galleries, museums and companies focused on the arts from around the globe.

Museums on the forefront include Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the Multimedia Art Museum of Moscow, according to art.art's website. (MAMM is still reflecting a .ru domain as of publication). The Van Abbemuseum of the Netherlands opted to create a new site for its .art website that features new collections while its exhibition schedule and main museum site remains a .com website.

Museums planning to adopt an .art domain include The Guggenheim, the Tate, Centre Pompidou, ICA Miami, LACMA and others, according to Art.art. Early adopting organizations include the Marina Abramovic Institute in Hudson, N.Y. CreativeTime and Artists Space, both of New York City, are expected to transition soon. Both currently have .org domains.

Galleries on board with .art include the international Hauser & Wirth, whose .art domain features a landing page for the site to come—celebrating 25 years in business—while the gallery's multiple gallery websites remain .com sites. David Levy (Brussels & Paris) has its .art site up and running as does Canesso Gallery (Paris). So do Galerie Didier Claes (Brussels), Stern Pissarro Gallery (London) and Galerie Meyer Oceanic & Eskimo Art (Paris).

Three artists are among the early adopters:  Steve Miller (Hamptons / NYC); Shen Wei (b. China, lives in NYC) and AES+F (Moscow).

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Excerpt of artist Shen Wei's homepage.

Excerpt of artist Shen Wei's homepage.

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For Miller, the .art domain provided the chance to set up an online store to unveil his new lines of art-infused designs marrying his art with clothing, surfboards and skateboards. This allows his commercial line to stand apart from his fine art, which continues to be presented on his .com website. FITZ & CO went a different way and decided to move their entire website from a .com to an .art.

FITZ & CO, a public relations and global strategy firm dedicated to the art world, was part of the planning team that prepared for the launch and eventual rollout, according to Sara Fitzmaurice, FITZ & CO’s CEO and President. When invited to become an Early Adopter, the company immediately said yes. The company's website, www.fitzandco.art, already reflects the new domain.

"From the very beginning, we recognized the tremendous opportunity a dedicated domain of, for, and by the art world would offer," Fitzmaurice wrote in an email to Hamptons Art Hub. "While the art world is certainly sophisticated and forward thinking, the industry itself (unlike so many others) has been slower to adapt to technological advancements.”

“When the opportunity arose to participate not only as a strategic partner, but as one of .ART’s exclusive Early Adopters, we embraced it,” Fitzmaurice continued. “Much like the Tate, Guggenheim, Centre Pompidou, LACMA, Hauser & Wirth, Fondation Beyeler and others, we’re very proud to be among the first to have reserved, registered, and activated our .ART domains."

FITZ & CO has a history of assisting art-centric companies that make use of technology, explained Fitzmaurice, including Artsy, e-Bay, artnet and others. Joining as an early adopter of .art was a continuation of the company’s interest in the ways art merges with technology as a practical tool, said Fitzmaurice.

Miller routinely adopts cutting edge technology to make his art and has throughout his decades-long art career. He signed up without hesitation after receiving his invitation to become an early adopter, the artist said in a recent interview.

Getting involved with the domain innovation was a natural for the artist who uses x-ray machines in the Amazon jungle for his photograph and MRI's for other objects to create his photography and mixed media works. Miller was an early artist visitor to CERN in Switzerland to draw inspiration from the technology used by the Large Hadron Collider (the largest and most powerful particle collider in the world) for his mixed media paintings incorporating physics. 

“I spoke to Sara Fitzmaurice at FITZ & CO about how I could use .art and she suggested using the new domain for a project,” said Miller. “I decided to do an online store. The .art is a nice divide between stevemiller.com, which features my fine art, and stevemiller.art, which shows my designs on clothing, surfboards and skateboards. It’s my art that’s being used but it’s not the same as the work I show in galleries.”

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Excerpt of artist Steve Miller's homepage.

Excerpt of artist Steve Miller's homepage.

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For both Miller and FITZ & CO, having an .art domain signifies identification with the arts. For other early adopters, the .art domain allows them to now move beyond country-specific domains through country code top level domains (such as .fr, .co, .uk, .ru, etc.) to embrace a universal domain identity, said Fitzmaurice. These early adopters include Fondation Beyeler, Centre Pompidou and BRAFA Art Fair.

“As institutions with a global reach and international audiences, the country code extensions can prove somewhat limiting,” said Fitzmaurice. “The opportunity to rebrand or build an existing brand via .art, an extension without national borders, was highly attractive. For others, they were simply late to the Internet and by the time they’d looked to register their desired web addresses, those names were taken.”

The company in charge of operating and selling the .art domain is UK Creative Ideas Ltd. (UKCI), an international team based in London. In spring 2016 UKCI signed an agreement with ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, to be the exclusive operator of the new top-level domain. The .art rollout is through UKCI's website ART.art.

"Our mission is to preserve the cultural legacy of the global art world," stated Ulvi Kasimov, founder of .ART, in the .art domain announcement. "We are honoured that so many respected institutions from all over the world share our vision and conviction that .ART will transform the arts community’s relationship with the internet and help protect their brand’s heritage online.”

During the invitational period when those in the arts only can apply for a .art domain, .ART is vetting applications to ensure companies already operating with a domain name can receive a .art without their company or website name getting snatched. 

“.ART is working to ensure that the right names go to the right entities during a Closed Period, whereby arts institutions and professionals will be invited to apply for their names and undergo systematic vetting,” said Fitzmaurice. “This is a protection mechanism to ensure legitimate arts institutions are offered first right to claim their name before .ART opens to the public later in the year.”

Now that the .art domain is open for applications, competition for domains may be fierce. As an early adopter, Steve Miller is pleased that he was able to secure his .art domain early on.

“I’ve been following this story for five years and knew I wanted SteveMiller.art,” said Miller, who has owned SteveMiller.com since 1993. “When you see stevemiller.art; I’m the guy. I wanted to be first in line for .art.”

The .art domain is now open to the art world at large. From February to May 2017, the .art domain is available for members of the art world only. Afterwards, the .art domain opens to the public.

For information or to apply for an .art domain, visit https://art.art.

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Copyright 2017 Hamptons Art Hub LLC. All rights reserved.

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