Managing collections or managing content?: The evolution of museum collections management systems

Chapman, M. (2015) Managing collections or managing content?: The evolution of museum collections management systems. In: McCarthy, C. (ed.) The International Handbooks of Museum Studies. Wiley-Blackwell: Chichester, West Sussex, UK, pp. 267-292. ISBN 9781118829059 (doi: 10.1002/9781118829059.wbihms212)

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This chapter introduces a number of case studies demonstrating new and emerging practice around collections management. Starting with a brief overview of the emergence of digital collections management systems principally for internal inventory and audit purposes in the early 1970s, the chapter examines how museums have embraced new technologies to both improve internal management functions and to open up collections for greater engagement and interaction by users. Case studies of recent developments demonstrate the convergence of museum operations through a collections management system, for example the convergence of pest management and collections data. Another explores how collections data is repurposed through in‐gallery interactives, mobile applications, and online access; and also the potential of online‐only collections management systems and how the inclusion of user‐generated content helps to reach new, and sometimes unexpected audiences. Finally, asking the fundamental question of what is being managed – collections or content – the chapter suggests how these developments can be brought together to contribute to new ways of looking at collections, engaging with a range of users, and realizing the full potential of museums and their content.

Item Type:Book Sections
Keywords:Collections management system, museum, art gallery, integrated pest management, database, interoperability, data sharing.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Chapman, Mr Malcolm
Authors: Chapman, M.
College/School:University Services > Library and Collection Services > Museum and Art Gallery
Published Online:30 April 2015

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