Determine How to Most Effectively Get New Data into the Museum CMS

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

March 13, 2024
If your museum is currently operational, collecting, or exhibiting, then your team is actively creating new collections management data to be captured in the museum Collections Management System (CMS).

This post is targeted to those who have recently acquired a CMS and need to understand how to most efficiently get new data into the CMS. To be clear, this post is not about previously existing database content, as that will likely have been migrated as part of your implementation of the new CMS. Today’s focus will be on new data creation and capture. This post builds on our previous work of getting to know your new CMS.

Common Methods for Getting Data into the New CMS

The tools available for getting data into the new CMS can be as technically complex as an import tool, or as basic as creating one record at a time. The key is to understand what options are available with your new CMS and how to select the right tool for the job. For example, there may be a project where bulk creation of records is the best way to go, or where working with the vendor for a one-time special import may make the most sense.

We’ll explore each of these methods in this post:

  • Import tool
  • Work with the vendor
  • Bulk creation
  • 1 at a time

Import Tool

Depending on your CMS there may be import tools readily available for your use. This is especially true if you are working with proprietary software. For CMS options on the more modest side (which can correlate with the size of the annual fee), there may be a requirement to work with the vendor or, if it’s open-source software, work with someone knowledgeable about the more technical aspects (such as command line coding).

Work With the Vendor

If there is a vendor that actively supports your CMS—meaning either proprietary software or the when the museum has contracted with a hosting company—there is the option to work with the CMS vendor to import new data. This option typically makes the most sense if you are either: 1. Importing a large amount of data and don’t have an import tool available to you; or 2. The data is highly complex and requires additional direction beyond the importer tool abilities to which you have access.

Bulk Creation

This option makes the most sense if you intend to create several records that contain shared or similar data. For example, you are cataloging 20 different ceramic objects that share similar data points. This tool may also be handy if you do not have access to the import tool covered above. Bulk creation is a great option for shared data across records that requires only minimal data editing on your part.

One At a Time

If this is your only option, it is important to know ahead of time so you can employ other methods to help support your work. Creating one record at a time can be tedious if you have to do it for quite a few records. If this is the case for your museum’s setup, there are strategies you can consider to make it as efficient and as painless as possible. The following posts may be of assistance:

These posts focus on data cleanup; however, you may find that the strategies and potential workflows presented can help inform your approach:


Understanding your options for how to get new data into your CMS is an important foundational element to your success. Now that we’ve covered how to get new data into the CMS, we’ll return next week to focus on data capture and how your learnings this week can inform your data capture approach.

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

To learn more, please join us for a free webinar I Finally Have a Museum CMS; Now What? On March 27, 2024 at 11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern. (Can’t make it? Register anyway and we will send you a link to the recording and slides afterwards). Register now

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