Database Software for Archival and Museum Collections

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    • #6245
      Debbie Bloom

      Hi all,

      I’m a museum conservator who outside my day-job holds a volunteer position with my local small historical society. They have an ever increasing archival, including born digital documents and images, collection in addition to artifacts that have been assembled with the view of one day building a museum. A previous volunteer built a custom database in Filemaker (version 10 I believe), into which a good portion of the archival collection has been entered. The fields are basic as far as I understand: accession number, donor, location etc.

      I am used to using KE EMu and to a lesser extent TMS. As a paper conservator I’m particularly sensitive to issues that arrise in an institution when there are separate, seemingly incompatible artifact and archival databases in use at once, since in my day-job I do my condition and treatment documentation through the artifact database. KE and the like would I imagine be overkill in this situation, not to mention cost prohibitive. Would upgrading to the newest version of Filemaker and then adding fields to the pre-existing custom build be a good option? What about the various free and/or open source collection database options that I see when I search the internet?

      Archivist, Registrar and Collection Manager colleagues, please help a poor Conservator navigate the world of databases. What is the best, or what are a few good database options for a volunteer run organization with very little money?

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