The municipal museums in Leipzig are currently continuing with the development of their data management systems through MuseumPlus. The GRASSI Museum of Applied Art has become the first partner to be linked to Cumulus and therefore has benefited from the advantages of both these systems, without having to constantly switch between the databases.

Museum databases developed out of the need to manage existing collections electronically and in an appropriate manner. From the early days with the use of index cards and inventories in accordance with customised databases, museum databases have now evolved into complex museum management systems.

Parallel to these developments, is the increased use of digital images and its electronic management and administration in image databases. With the increased dissemination of digital images and other media data, including videos, audio and graphic data, PDFs and slide shows, the image and media databases developed into what is now officially known as Digital Asset Management Systems (DAM). The term “Asset” refers to various types of files, including embedded information that provides more detailed particulars about the data files and its content. DAM systems are specialised in the effective handling of media data. DAM systems offer automated input and output functions in addition to various other functionalities:

  • An automatic layout of data records and complete stacks of files including the generating of a miniature for every file (thumbnail, small view image), linked to the original file (which can, if required and before linking, automatically store to a protected space) and the acquirement of important information (metadata which is added to the file, like EXIF, IPTC and XMP) in the record. In this way thousands of records can automatically be generated overnight, and without further manual preparation searchable information is created after which the databank can be searched.
  • Scaling or conversion of data when downloading or sending via e-mail/ftp is done to the required file size and the required file format, and in the requisite colour space through predetermined actions. It will also not save different versions of a file and you don’t have to worry about the processing of data when forwarding or downloading. You can simply select the intended usage, for example internet, and a suitably prepared copy of the original file will be created from the server and sent to the destination.

For the effective handling of media data the GRASSI Museum of Applied Art developed a well-thought-out workflow. First, all the digital images were captured to the Cumulus database and were then indexed based on the image. All images that were to be incorporated into the museum database were specifically marked and shrunk to the size as specified for MuseumPlus. The images were then transferred to MuseumPlus and were assigned to the correct object. All the steps after the marking of the records followed automatically in half-hour intervals.

The input of object-related information takes place in MuseumPlus. When searching in MuseumPlus the smaller images are displayed by default. With the press of a button the original files or all the images of the selected objects can be accessed in full resolution while in the background, Cumulus with the combined functionality of the media database, is at your disposal.

A substantial part of the digital media material is not entered into the museum’s database, as the database does not provide a suitable structure for the inclusion thereof. This includes inter alia, photos and videos of openings, gallery openings, building projects, graphic and layout files of the cooperation with agencies, PDFs, documentation relating to museum pedagogy and slide show presentations for talks and lectures. These files can be searched and used directly via Cumulus. Moreover, areas like the department of public relations, museum pedagogy, the department of technology or others may benefit from the complex functionalities of media databases in future.

We are pleased that this sensible combination of both database systems in the GRASSI Museum of Applied Art in Leipzig could be realised and we thank everybody who participated for their extremely constructive cooperation.

 

Are you interested in further information or how a similar configuration could be developed in your institution? Alexander Graeber and Günther Gromke at +49 341 420550 are gladly at your disposal.

Link to Museum Plus