Strategies Toward a Museum Digital Storage Solution

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

May 24, 2023

This post will conclude our series on digital storage with strategies leading to a museum digital storage solution and tips for how the Collections Management System (CMS) may play a role.

Over the last few weeks we have reviewed the purpose of museum digital storage, the requirements to use when evaluating museum digital storage options, and outlined each digital storage approach.

But Wait, What About the Museum CMS?

As you’ve followed the museum digital storage series, you may have wondered: “But, wait. What about the CMS?”. Yes! There are overlaps in functionality between the Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) and a museum CMS. This is especially true if the museum can afford a robust CMS platform. In certain circumstances, it can make sense to have just one platform to fulfill most CMS and digital storage needs.

Note: As of this moment, there’s no one DAMS or CMS product out there that can adequately meet all requirements and best practices for digital asset management and preservation, in addition to collection description, management, and publishing. But I think we are moving in that direction.

A DAMS Strategy When You Only Have a CMS

In most cases, if you only have one platform, it is a CMS. In this case, if your museum has a CMS but not a DAMS (and no budget for a DAMS) there are a few ways you can creatively leverage your CMS to facilitate a “for now” DAMS solution. Here’s where I recommend you start:

  • Review the “must have” DAMS requirements for your museum.
  • Learn what the museum CMS can do regarding typical DAMS functionality, and compare them to your DAMS requirements.

If you have a CMS vendor: Inquire with them about DAMS solutions, workarounds, or complementary tools that can be used with their product.

If you use an open-source CMS product: Explore the community via GitHub and similar forums to see if there are complementary DAMS modules you can add to your CMS.

A Short-Term DAMS Strategy

If none of the above results in you finding a “good for now” option already present in the CMS or at the museum, then it’s time to explore free to low-cost products that can perform the minimum DAMS functionality. Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Web Services, and many more entry-level products are out there and can serve as a stop-gap until a more permanent DAMS solution can be put into place. Another consideration for those who have access to IT support is considering an open-source solution. None of these are necessarily a permanent, or even long-term solution, but they do help to fill in the digital storage need when you have no other options.

A Long-Term DAMS Strategy

Eventually the museum will need to invest in a DAMS. With that in mind, it’s important to plan for your longer-term strategy. Here are some actions you can take in the meantime that will help to prepare you for a long-term DAMS strategy:

  • Request 1x time funding for a consultant to perform a DAMS assessment of needs and write up of specifications. Or, run your own assessment and specification creation.
  • Request an annual budget line to cover an annual service/subscription to a DAMS product. 
  • Research what DAMS options are available.
  • Identify what DAMS are in place at peer museums.
  • Set up appointments with peers to interview them about their DAMS, how they’re using it, how it fits their needs, etc.
  • Request demonstrations from DAMS products to learn if they may be a fit (reference your specifications).

Pursuing all or even some of these activities will help you in your journey towards a DAMS. The more you can have prepared ahead of time, the faster you can hit the ground running once you receive the “greenlight” for a DAMS or similar digital storage solution.


Museum digital storage plays such a critical role to our digital collections work and in how we care for and manage our physical collections. However, the role it plays is an “unseen” one. When considering budget allocation toward a flashy exhibit or a robust digital storage solution, unfortunately many gravitate toward funding the exhibition every time. The more we can articulate how digital storage supports our everyday work—including exhibition work—the easier it will be for us to get the right storage approach in place.

Additional Reading

The CMS: What’s Essential, What’s Hackable, and What Does It Cost?

Digital Asset Management Systems Vs Collections Management Systems; Part 1

Does Your Museum Need a DAMS?

Figuring out a Museum DAMS Solution When You Only Have a CMS

Museum Digital Projects: Digital File Storage


Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

If you’d like to learn more, please join us for “Figuring Out Museum Digital Storage”, presented by Rachael Woody on June 7, 2023 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 or call 604-278-6717. 

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