The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) is one of the largest museums in the United States. The museum’s archives houses more than 100 years of institutional records and associated manuscript collections that chronicle not only the museum’s history, but also the artistic and cultural development of Houston—collections that should be broadly accessible and discoverable.
Prior to implementing ArchivEra, the archives staff worked (and struggled) with a “hodgepodge” of databases and legacy information repositories. The move to a central location was the motivator to invest in a purpose-built archival collections management system. The CMS needed to be simple and fast to implement, offer complete functionality out of the box (unlike open source software or an “adapted” museum or library system), and easy to learn and maintain, without scripting or coding—and without independence on the IT department.
Says Managing Archivist Marie Wise, “As a small archives staff of two, we need a system that we can maintain and customize on our own yet has all the functionality we need, out of the box. The customization options and flexibility of ArchivEra are unique; we are able to make it be what we want it to be.” The MFAH Archives had a number of requirements; the right CMS had to deliver:
- Fast, reliable implementation
- Accessions and records retention tracking
- Ease of use, and customizable without relying on IT
- Enable staff to easily manage hierarchies and generate finding aids
Not only has ArchivEra delivered results in all those areas, it brought the “serendipity” factor, ending up solving even more problems than they set out to, such as replacing their legacy exhibition database.
We invite you to learn more about the many ways the archives within The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston uses ArchivEra to move well beyond the status quo . To read their full success story – please click here.
For an archival collections management system (CMS) to meet demands, it should be selected after a discovery period that builds a decision framework
An archival CMS project should involve a team that meets regularly, decides on the purpose for the CMS, and examines internal processes and workflows
Selecting an archival (CMS) depends on determining goals, objectives, and requirements which must be done by a diverse team of stakeholders
The Archivists’ Advantage: Choosing the Right CMS, is an essential guide to archival collections management system selection, implementation and use