A strategy for integrating museum information management systems

Cristiano Bianchi, Keepthinking, UK

The typical museum owns between one and ten different software ‘systems’ to manage and publish its digital content, with each solution designed to solve a single problem, within the institutional digital landscape. Collections management systems, archive and library management, websites, shops, etc. are all considered as completely independent and self-contained clusters, with none or little communication between each other. Data needs to be replicated between different systems and databases and gets quickly out-of-date somewhere down the line, while efforts and costs to integrate different systems increase with each new component.

This workshop aims at changing the traditional museum perspective, which consists of procuring and purchasing a series of independent and vertical ‘something’ management systems, towards the notion of a framework for integration of information into more holistic digital landscape.

It will do so by demonstrating how the traditional approach involves several overlapping databases and teaching participants of to design and implement a database that covers many, if not all, of their requirements. It will demonstrate similarities between workflows in different information requirements and discuss what needs to be customised and what can be generalised.

The workshop covers information integration in the areas of:
– collections management
– archive management
– library management
– online collections
– website
– tickets, donations, memberships and online shop
– patron management
– digital assets management
– in museum interactives and mobile apps

The planned workshop will consist of:
– Analysis of current management systems (group exercise)
– Identification of similarities and differences (group exercise)
– Principles of database design (theory)
– Data schema for integration (group exercise)
– Questions and answers (interactives)