On June 5, Lucidea published Who are the Stakeholders in Museum Digital Projects?, a post that reviews how to work with internal and external stakeholders involved in museum digital projects. This post will further break down who the internal museum stakeholders are and what their specific needs are in relation to the museum collections management system (CMS).
Why are Internal Stakeholders Important?
Internal stakeholders can be forgotten in favor of focusing on external stakeholders. External stakeholders (e.g., donors or museum members) can be thought of as more important due to the direct income they contribute. However, internal stakeholders (museum staff) are just as important because they are the ones who interface daily with the collections management system and have the power to support or hinder work dependent on the system.
Who are the Internal Stakeholders?
There are five types of museum staff who use the collections management system the most: collections managers (or registrars), curators, conservators, educators, and exhibit designers. Each require a different experience from the CMS, and each play a role with regard to both input and extraction of information from the system.
Stakeholders and the Collections Management System (CMS)
Collections Managers: Collections managers are typically considered the primary CMS users. As a function of their role they input information for each object’s provenance, accession information, description, and other details that assist museum staff in the care and management of that object. Collection managers need a CMS to be fast and efficient as there is usually a backlog of work to get through in addition to their other roles and responsibilities.
Curators: Curators use the CMS for both the input and extraction of object information. They help provide specific subject expertise to further describe each object within the CMS. They also use the CMS to research objects and gather information to help inform books, lectures, and exhibits. Curators need a CMS to offer robust search options that accurately pull together objects that are relevant to their search.
Conservators: Conservators use information in the CMS to help inform and document any conservation treatments performed on objects. They reference important object information such as material type, and review any previous work done. Once she has completed conservation or restoration work, the conservator will update an object’s information in the CMS to help inform future conservation work. Conservators need a CMS to support object reports that provide areas where conservation information can be easily stored and retrieved by relevant museum staff.
Educators: Educators are mainly extractors of information from the CMS. They are usually in charge of educational events, workshops, and lectures and will use the CMS to help research and inform their content creation. Educators are similar to curators in that they depend on a CMS to deliver relevant search results that help connect relevant objects.
Exhibit Designers: Exhibit designers are mainly extractors of information as well. Exhibit staff will use a CMS to look up object history and description. The object history informs them how recently an object may have been on display and what conservation actions need to be taken. The object description is used to create exhibit display panels. Exhibit designers need a CMS that collections managers, curators, and conservators want to use as the designers are dependent upon the information those groups input into the CMS to do their jobs accurately.
When considering any major action regarding the collections management system (such as: selecting, updating, or migrating from one) it’s imperative to consider the needs of all the internal stakeholders involved. The more needs and use cases that can be accommodated, the easier it will be for the CMS to help museum staff efficiently and effectively do their jobs.
Consultant, author, and blogger Rachael Cristine Woody advises on museum strategies, collections management and grant writing for a wide variety of clients. Learn about Lucidea’s Argus solution for museum collections management and digitization, which can be used to support internal stakeholders.
Rachael Cristine Woody’s book How to Select, Buy, and Use a Museum CMS helps you find the best collections management system for your museum.
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