CollectionSpace for Education

Students from Johns Hopkins Museum Studies program recently had the opportunity to try out CollectionSpace CMS. The master’s degree candidates are enrolled in Collections Management Systems, a course that introduces core database concepts and demonstrates how collections management transactions are performed in various software. The students, many of whom are currently professionals in the field, can study how CMS integration of museum standards facilitates best practices in data capture and access.   

The team at CSpace made a “sandbox,” or test instance of CollectionSpace where students created records, executed searches and linked information in the relational database. Since the CollectionSpace software is online, it was easily accessible for the students compared to traditional CMS software that must be physically installed on computers.  

CollectionSpace, built around the SPECTRUM data standard, enabled the students to accomplish multiple registration tasks: creating object records, uploading media files, creating condition checks, adding authority fields and cataloging born-digital objects.   

Students touted the user-friendly, easy to navigate interface. Sariah Rushing liked the “assortment of fields and hierarchies,” “flexibility,” “search capabilities,” and “public web access option.” David Robeson noted: “As an open source CMS, it was intuitive to use, simply organized and the creation of a new object record was achieved in a matter of minutes.  CollectionSpace does offer a readymade solution for smaller institutions which could use the system without having to spend time creating one in house or investing in a larger, more expensive, CMS.”  

The CSpace “sandbox” option for museum trainees is a hands-on educational tool for database theory and collections information management. With museum professionals and trainees alike working from home more than ever, cloud-based CMS technologies will be critical to engaging the next generation of museum studies graduates. 

Special thanks to guest author Kate Collen, Adjunct Faculty, Johns Hopkins University M.A. in Museum Studies Program. Interested in submitting a post or spinning up a sandbox for your museum studies class? Contact collectionspace@lyrasis.org.