How to Perform Museum CMS Data Enhancement

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

May 29, 2024

Today’s post will continue our exploration of museum data enhancement. Our focus will be on how to perform the enhancement work within the CMS.

Data enhancement is both the enhancement of existing data in required fields and the creation of data for areas of the object record that fall into the recommended section of descriptive best practices. As such, data enhancement is an optional activity, but one that has the power to improve the discoverability of objects in the museum Collections Management System (CMS). So far, we’ve reviewed the common fields targeted for enhancement and how to evaluate the CMS data for enhancement opportunities. Finally, we have reviewed how to create a plan for museum CMS data enhancement.

How to perform enhancement work within the CMS.

Begin with a Spreadsheet

Regardless of your ultimate tool for providing the enhanced data to the CMS, I encourage you to use a spreadsheet to help capture and review the information gathered. A spreadsheet helps to play an interim role in this work with the added benefits of reviewing information more easily as an aggregate as well as supporting an easy import (if available) into the CMS.

How to Perform Data Enhancement

There are four main avenues for updating the CMS with enhanced data. Some of these options may not be available for your CMS, while others may be only applicable for some areas of data enhancement. The following section will review each option, possible restrictions, and when it makes the most sense to use that option.

The following are the four main options for data enhancement within a CMS:

  • Import tool
  • Work with the vendor
  • Bulk creation
  • One 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’re working with a proprietary software. For CMS options on the more modest side, there may be a requirement to work with the vendor. If it’s open-source software, then you may need to consider working with someone knowledgeable in the more technical aspects (such as command line coding).

Work With the Vendor: If there is a vendor that actively supports your CMS—meaning if it’s proprietary software or the museum has contracted with a hosting company—there’s the option to work with the CMS vendor to import new data. 

Bulk Creation: This option makes the most sense if you intend to create several records that contain shared or similar data. For data enhancement purposes, it may only makes sense to use this tool for Subjects and Places that could be applied to a large amount of object records.

One At a Time: Creating one record at a time can be tedious if you have to do it for quite a few object records. If this is the case for your museum’s CMS then there are strategies you can consider to make it as efficient and as painless as possible. Please see the Additional Reading section below for more information.


In this miniseries we’ve performed a deep dive into what data enhancement is, reviewed the fields most likely to benefit from enhancement work, outlined how to assess your collection for enhancement opportunities, advised on how to plan for enhancement work, and finally, offered recommendations regarding how to perform enhancement work. This now concludes our miniseries on data enhancement.

Additional Reading

As you create and execute your data enhancement plan, the following posts may be of assistance:

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

To learn more, please join us for a free webinar How to Perform Data Enhancement for Your Museum CMS  TODAY May 29 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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