Museum Digital Asset Management …and CMS

August 16, 2016

Over the past several years, we have helped a number of museums and cultural heritage organizations with an interesting problem: integration of Collections data with a Digital Asset Management system. As a result, many of the insights gathered through these collaborations are helping to shape the NetX platform around this type of data exchange.

Digital librarians, museum technologists and curators depend upon pristine object data for every artifact. Collections management systems evolved to manage this data, but often handled digital assets as an afterthought. Now that robust DAM systems can be fused with collections data, museums can rethink the best ways to manage and share collections online. However,  the decision to integrate a digital asset management system with a collections database is a shift in thinking, that requires consensus-building across departments.

As digital asset management systems have evolved, the capabilities have seemingly encroached upon the domain of Collections systems. Some analysts have speculated whether the DAM might someday supplant the Collections Management System. Yet, museums about to embark on a massive technology refactoring can’t wait for the future to catch up with functionality. They need to build a sustainable solution today, with room to scale tomorrow. This is why a hybrid approach works right now, using DAM to connect valuable collections system data with a museum-wide digital library.

Merging the old with the new provides an opportunity to evaluate what’s truly better. Our clients have found that a DAM’s robust media and data management features can be combined with a collection system’s relational database to deliver enhanced user experiences for a broad audience.  Specific departments typically see an increase in efficiencies when this happens. For example, connecting a DAM’s permissions and workflow capabilities with a collection’s legal and administrative records, can streamline copyright management and protection. And combining transcoding and HTML5 features from DAM, museums can simplify production and publishing processes for a variety of teams.

In art, the idea of “Gestalt” describes a whole experience that exceeds the sum of the parts. Digital asset and collections management systems combined can be key ingredients for making this magic happen. Although our projects are firmly rooted in technology, we are inspired by the creative ways our museum clients utilize DAM and CMS. These organizations are deeply committed to making artistic treasures more accessible today and preserving a legacy for future audiences to enjoy. Read our case study on how MoMA NY combined their digital asset and collections management systems.

Here are some areas of focus with our museum clients here at NetX:

  • Integration with museum collections management systems such as TMS (The Museum System), TMS Embark, and we're working with other platforms such as KE Software's Electronic Museum management system, EMu, and Mimsy.
  • development of robust taxonomies, inclusive of collections data *and* other data sets... to power comprehensive search/browse/collect/share functions.
  • Automation of repetitive media processing and management workflows
  • Migration of  assets and data from any 3rd party systems, (including existing DAM systems)

Learn more about NetX and how we work with museums here.

If you have interest in these areas, please let us know,.

**If you are interested in content management and not collections management you can see our Drupal DAM Module post or the module itself on

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