So, which personal collection management software is best for you? Well, that depends on what kind of software you already have and how much you want to spend. If you’re just looking for something simple and inexpensive, then CyberLink PhotoDirector 10 Ultra might be right up your alley. On the other hand, if you want something more robust with more features than what most entry-level programs offer but don’t want to pay too much money either then Adobe Lightroom might be worth checking out. Either way though there’s no doubt that these programs are perfect for anyone who wants a better way of organizing their collections without spending hours doing it by hand each time they add new images into their library!
In this guide, we review the aspects of Personal Collection Management Software, open source collection management software, art collection management software, and archives collection management software.
Personal Collection Management Software
Keeping track of your personal collection of photos is a big job. You need to keep track of everything from where each photo was taken and when, to who was in it and what kind of camera you used. If that wasn’t bad enough, there are also questions about how many copies exist, who owns those copies (and where they might be), and so on. It can be overwhelming! Fortunately there are tools available that will help you manage all this information automatically. Here’s a look at some options for managing personal collections with software:
There are a lot of different options for personal collection management software, and they each have their pros and cons.
With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. There are a lot of different things to consider when choosing personal collection management software, including cost and features, but there are also other factors that might sway your decision. For example, some options have better customer support than others. Or maybe you’re looking for something with a free trial period so that you can try out the software before committing to it.
Adobe Lightroom is a very good choice if you want to stay within the Adobe ecosystem – especially if you already own other Creative Cloud software like Photoshop.
Adobe Lightroom is a very good choice if you want to stay within the Adobe ecosystem – especially if you already own other Creative Cloud software like Photoshop.
For example, if you want to edit your collection and then send it to a printer that uses Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom can be an excellent solution. It will give you access to all of your images in one place, make it easy for you to organize them, and provide an intuitive interface for editing them once they’re there.
It’s a bit more expensive than its closest competitor, Capture One.
Another popular option is Capture One Pro, which is available for both Mac and PC. It’s best known as a RAW photo processor but can also be used to organize and manage your photos.
It’s a bit more expensive than its closest competitor, Lightroom Classic (formerly called the Creative Cloud), though you save money over the long run if you subscribe to Adobe’s $10/month plan.
However, which one is better may be a matter of taste.
They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Lightroom is more expensive, but it has more features. Capture One is cheaper and has better user interface. Capture One is great for photographers who are more experienced, but if you’re just starting out with photography or need to work with video files often, then Lightroom might be better for you.
In addition to being an excellent RAW converter, it also features a library that can help you manage your collection.
The library is the main way you organize and manage your photos. You can add tags, ratings, and other metadata as well as create collections to further organize your photos. This is a great feature for photographers who want to keep their images organized by theme, subject matter or location. You can also create folders and subfolders within the library if you prefer more hierarchical organization.
If you prefer a more minimalist approach, Lightroom offers multiple ways to view your collection:
- Grid View: Shows thumbnails of all of your images in an easy-to-browse grid format that makes it easy to find anything quickly (even if you have thousands).
- Survey View: Allows you to see all photos at once with larger previews than in Grid View but limits how many photos are shown at once (upwards of 100).
Capture One Pro is Capture One’s premier offering and is available for both Mac and PC.
Capture One Pro is Capture One’s premier offering and is available for both Mac and PC. It’s best known as a RAW photo processor, but it can also import JPEGs, TIFFs and a variety of other formats. Once you’ve imported your images into the program, you can manage them in the smart albums feature. This lets you organize pictures by shoot date or theme using keywords that are automatically applied to photos based on embedded information from the camera (like lenses used). Smart albums also allow editing tools like cropping and lens correction.
It is best known as a RAW photo processor.
It is best known as a RAW photo processor.
In order to understand what that means, we must first understand the concept of file formats. A file format is simply how data is packaged and stored on your hard drive or memory card. A JPEG file format compresses the image so that it takes up less space on your computer, which makes it easier to send via email or upload online. But because of this compression from a high-quality JPEG down to a smaller size (or resolution), you sacrifice some clarity in the process. RAW files are not compressed in any way—they are much larger than JPEGs but still contain all of the information captured by your camera’s sensor at full resolution. This means that when you want to edit them later on, there’s more detail at hand for making changes without losing quality—and there are no limits on how big they can get! The downside? Because they’re uncompressed, RAW files aren’t suitable for emailing or sharing online: they’re too large and will likely crash your recipient’s inbox; likewise with printing them onto paper without extra processing first (which requires an expensive professional printer).
Once you’ve imported your images into the program, you can manage them in the smart albums feature.
Once you’ve imported your images into the program, you can manage them in the smart albums feature. Smart albums can be based on metadata, like date and location; on face recognition; or on image content, like color or composition. The software will automatically organize them so that they’re easy to find and browse through.
Cyberlink PhotoDirector 10 Ultra is an inexpensive option that has some very good editing tools that make it one of the best all-in-one options.
PhotoDirector 10 Ultra is an inexpensive option that has some very good editing tools that make it one of the best all-in-one options. While you can use it for managing your photo collection, its main focus is on editing. It will help you with things like adjusting colors and creating collages and memes.
While CyberLink’s interface isn’t as intuitive as others on this list, it does have a ton of features—more than any other program we tested. If you want something more than just a library manager but less than Photoshop, PhotoDirector 10 Ultra might be right up your alley.
To help you manage your collection, it offers some advanced automatic image tagging and smart categories to help organize your photos in new ways..
To help you manage your collection, it offers some advanced automatic image tagging and smart categories to help organize your photos in new ways. You can also create custom tags, which is helpful if the software doesn’t have a tag that matches what you’re looking for exactly.
The app makes it easy to find specific images or videos by using filters and keywords that are automatically assigned based on metadata (the data about an image or video). You can even filter by people so you only see photos of a particular person or group of people. It’s also possible to set up custom collections based on criteria like shooting location or camera used during capture.
If you want more information about an image right away when browsing through albums in the app, there’s a View Details button at the bottom right corner of every photo where details such as shutter speed will appear when tapped on (if available).
So, what’s your best option?
It really depends on your needs.
If you have very little time for inventory management and want to save money, then a free alternative like QuickBooks Online or Zoho Books might work for you. If you need more robust reporting and inventory control options, then look into HubSpot CRM. If you’re looking for something that combines all these features in one place but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (or your second-born child), then a combination of tools could be the right approach.
open source collection management software
With robotron*Daphne, a collection management system has been created that enables the recording and management of large collections in an exceptionally efficient way. It combines the basic philosophy of maximum simplicity and at the same time maximum performance with the elegance of a modern application. The intuitive handling allows each museum staff member to productively record objects in short time.
Primus is a collection management system for museums and cultural institutions. It manages information regarding the objects in the collection as well as the processes needed to handle them.
Collector Systems is a leading cloud-based collection management system for museums, trusts, foundations and historical homes. Accessible from any internet-enabled computer, tablet, or smartphone, Collector Systems provides the tools to precisely document any type of collection.
eHive is a web-based collection cataloguing system. It makes cataloguing and publishing of your collection easy and affordable.
Micromusée is the complete collections management system for all types of collections and museums. Version 7 offers a completely renowned interface for a better user experience and higher efficiency. It enhances the possibilities for shared or multilingual databases. Micromusée is user friendly and easy to customize.
CollectionSpace is a web-based, open-source collections information management system used to manage the day-to-day activities of museum collections professionals and others who work with art, artifacts, objects, and specimens. CollectionSpace has an organizational home at LYRASIS, a non-profit with a mission to catalyze and enable equitable access to the world’s cultural and scientific heritage.
Modes Compact is the entry level version of the Modes collections management system. Modes Compact can be installed in single-user (non-networked) configuration only. It supports Spectrum primary procedures to Accreditation standard.
Modes Complete is the fully-featured version of the Modes collections management system. Flexible and easy to use, it can be installed in single-user or multi-user (networked) configurations. Modes has been developed over more than 30 years and is the most widely-used collections management system in the UK.
Profium Sense™ Collection Management is a proven Digital Asset Management solution based on semantic technologies. It is used by museums of all sizes and many organisations for managing photographic archives, item collections and cultural heritage objects.
Gallery Systems’ core collections management product, TMS Collections, is a sophisticated, easy-to-use browser-based application designed specifically for collections, content, media, exhibition, and loan management. Developed in partnership with museum professionals, TMS Collections is a robust and highly configurable collection management system that can organize and manage all collection types without compromise.
Vernon Systems has more than 30 years’ experience in creating software for the museum, gallery and cultural heritage sectors. Our systems are used around the world by institutions to catalogue, manage and publish information about collections.
MuseumIndex+ is a powerful Spectrum compliant museum collection management system featuring the Index+ Workflow Pilot which not only supports, but guides you through, the Spectrum procedures. The system is configurable to meet specialist needs and is in use in all sizes of museum from the smallest to the largest.
The software Sofie is Sweden’s most used system for managing collections at museums, local history societies and archives. Sofie is owned and developed by Västerbottens Museum since 1991 and has been sold to customers around the country since the mid-1990s. Today the software is running at over 250 customers at various cultural heritage institutions. The software can manage collections of objects, photographic images, relics and archives.
Norges kunstdatabase (NKDB) is a highly accessible and adaptable system for managing and publishing art. The platform is 100% web based (SaaS) and designed for easy use on a wide range of devices. By leveraging modern technology, we combine the tasks of managing art (handling process, maintenance, object history, documentation etc.) while bringing the facets of art and cultural heritage closer to the people.
SKINsoft is a French research laboratory providing innovative solutions for museums, foundations and contemporary cultural centres. Our applications can be used in every type of establishment, from the smallest to the largest, for any kind of collection : art and history, archaeology, modern art, natural history. They are available in various languages and we are working with organisations in both European and American continents.
EMu is one of the most sophisticated collections management systems on the market, with a wealth of features and functionality. It has been at the forefront of collections management for more than three decades and is used by institutions of all sizes and collection types. A comprehensive and flexible collections management system, it is able to accommodate the requirements of any collecting institution, but is widely acknowledged to be the preeminent system for Natural History collections.
The OpenHeritage system is built using Free Open Source Software. The main platform consists of Drupal, a web-based content management system. This interfaces with Geoserver, an open source mapserver, and KoboForms/OpenDataKit (ODK) an open source data collection software suite.
Coeli is a cloud-based solution for cataloguing, managing and disseminating cultural heritage collections in an agile and intuitive way. Coeli brings you a complete procedure-based collections management system together with powerful data harvesting and sharing capabilities.
Qi is a web-based collections, information and asset management solution that allows organisations of any size to manage, publish and share their collection and any other content. Qi can be easily customised to adapt to any type of content and to serve it to diverse audiences, across any number of channels and platforms. Qi is designed for ultimate flexibility, collaboration, ease of use and speed.
A full featured, web-based collections management system, Axiell Collections helps institutions of all sizes manage their museum and archive collections with ease. Selected by some of the most prestigious institutions in the world – there are a range of packages to suit all sizes of institution. Axiell Collections is simple to use and can be accessed wherever you are, through a browser.
MuseumPlus, the browser-based, comprehensive and globally used CMS developed by the Swiss zetcom Group, offers state-of-the-art technology combined with a highly configurable frontend.
art collection management software
Being able to customize the public interface and handle multiple collections from various partner sites with multimedia incorporated made [Argus] an easy choice.
[We chose Argus because] we wish to maintain our fields and as much of our workflow as possible, while adding in some additional features.
I’m really excited about Argus and the positive impact it will have on internal teams and on our online visitors’ search experience.
Argus is easy to use and has functionalities that simplify and guide our actions. We are very pleased with our decision to integrate Argus into our work flow.
We have always wanted to make the collection broadly accessible … when the ability to offer Web access presented itself via Argus… we knew it was the right choice.
[T]he efficient integration between the administrative back end and the public portal [was an] overriding factor… in our choice to manage our collection with Argus.
[We implemented a Lucidea product because] the Argus software is so well suited to our requirements.
Our museum converted from Open Edition to Argus at the end of 2013. Lucidea has been a responsive resource throughout the experience.
Being a private organisation we rely on grant money therefore have a limited budget – Lucidea genuinely found ways of working within that.
[Lucidea distinguished itself from other vendors with] excellent communication from sales rep, lower cost up front, flexible model of database that feels “customizable”.
[Lucidea Sales staff] have been incredibly supportive, helpful, and knowledgeable in our search for a collections management system that we are really excited to implement.
Argus came out on top every time, they had great references, offered capabilities that would make both gallery staff and IT happy, and were well within budget.
…we went through a rigorous procurement process with a number of different applicants, and we scored every element. Argus came out on top every time.
archives collection management software
A Collections Management System (CMS), sometimes called a Collections Information System, is software used by the collections staff of a collecting institution or by individual private collectors and collecting hobbyists or enthusiasts. Collecting institutions are primarily museums and archives and cover a very broad range from huge, international institutions, to very small or niche-specialty institutions such as local historical museums and preservation societies. Secondarily, libraries and galleries are also collecting institutions. Collections Management Systems (CMSs) allow individuals or collecting institutions to organize, control, and manage their collections’ objects by “tracking all information related to and about” those objects. In larger institutions, the CMS may be used by collections staff such as registrars, collections managers, and curators to record information such as object locations, provenance, curatorial information, conservation reports, professional appraisals, and exhibition histories. All of this recorded information is then also accessed and used by other institutional departments such as “education, membership, accounting, and administration.”
Though early Collections Management Systems were cataloging databases, essentially digital versions of card catalogs, more recent and advanced systems are being used to improve communication between museum staff and to automate and manage collections-based tasks and workflows. Collections Management Systems are also used to provide access to information about an institution’s collections and objects to academic researchers, institutional volunteers, and the public, increasingly through online methods.
Ever since machine-readable standards were developed for libraries in the 1960s, museums have had an interest in utilizing computers to record information about their collections. However, museums have very different needs from libraries; while bibliographic information about a library collection object is usually static, museum records are ever-changing because of the continuous need for new information about museum objects to be added to the records. As early as 1967, the Museum Computer Network (MCN), an informal group of New York museums, attempted to create a collections management database called GRIPHOS, and at a Metropolitan Museum of Art and IBM conference in 1968, speakers discussed current and proposed projects to automate collections management. In an effort to coordinate research into developing these systems, professional associations such as the Museum Data Bank Coordinating Committee (MDBCC), formed in 1972, were created to disseminate information about computers and databases to museums interested implementing computerized collections systems. During the 1980s, Collections Management Systems became more advanced with the rise of relational databases that “[relate] each piece of data to every other piece,” and during this time some of today’s popular systems were originally developed for specific institutions “based on generic relational databases” — such as Gallery Systems’ The Museum System for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Re:discovery Software’s Proficio for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s Monticello — before being released as commercial products. During the 1990s, with computers becoming faster and cheaper and with the rise of the Internet, collections management software became much more sophisticated, able to “present images, sort information in any one of a myriad of configurations, record exhibition information, track locations, and interface with a museum Website.”
Though the goal during the 1960s was to use computers for collections record-keeping for purposes of accountability, MCN Executive Director Everett Ellin warned that museum professionals should include public access as a goal because it would “not be worth the effort if museums only create a glorified record-keeping system.” Collections Management Systems have become crucial tools in increasing public access to collections information, expanding the types of information that are recorded. What was once “a simple tool for collections care and inventory” has become “a robust and powerful instrument for saving all information about museum objects,” including interpretive material, digital objects, and digital surrogates. Since some Collections Management Systems now incorporate Digital Asset Management and content information storage, many museum professionals have started to use the acronym CMS to stand for “Content Management System.”
In 1997, art historian and museum information studies consultant Robert A. Baron outlined the requirements for Collections Management Systems, not as a list of the kinds of collections object information that should be recorded, but rather as a list of collections activities such as administration, loan, exhibition, preservation, and retrieval, tasks that museums had been responsible for long before the invention of computers, and many modern Collections Management Systems go beyond cataloging by aiding in the management of these processes and workflows. The Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) Collections Management Software Criteria Checklist (CMSCC), which aims to be a comprehensive list of the kinds of information that a museum may want to record in a CMS, organizes that list by processes and actions rather than type of information. The checklist “outlines a number of features commonly included in a commercial CMS, which can assist a museum in determining which features have priority.”
Managing and documenting information and tasks related to objects entering the museum, including acquisition or loan records, receipts, record of the reason for the deposit of the object, and record of the object’s return to its owner.
The management and documentation of objects added to the institution’s collection, including accession numbers, catalog numbers, object name or title, acquisition date, acquisition method, and transfer of title. There are many different accession numbering systems, and a CMS should allow an institution to use its existing numbering system.
Identification of objects for which the institution has a legal responsibility, including loaned objects and objects that have not been accessioned. Information recorded includes object location and status.
Records of an object’s current and past locations within the institution’s premises so that it can be located, including dates of movement and authorizations for movement.
Information that describes and identifies objects, including creator/maker/artist, date(s) of creation, place of creation, provenance, object history, research on the object, and connections to other objects.
The management of information about an object’s conservation “from a curatorial and collections management perspective,” including conservation requests, examination records, condition reports, records of preventative actions, and treatment histories.
Management of information about potential threats to collections objects, including documentation of specific threats, records of preventative measures, disaster plans and procedures, and emergency contacts.
Documentation of insurance needs for objects for which the institution is responsible (included loaned objects) as well as the monetary value of objects for insurance purposes. This may include the names and contact information of appraisers as well as appraisal history.
Management of an object’s exhibition or display, including exhibition history and documentation of research done on an object for an exhibition. More advanced Collections Management Systems may have the ability to present information from the system on a museum’s website or in an online exhibit.
Management of objects leaving the institution’s premises and being transferred to a different location, including location information, packing notes, crate dimensions, authorizations, customs information and documenting the means of transportation (including courier information).
Managing the temporary transfer of responsibility of an object from the museum to another institution or vice versa, including loan agreements, loan history, records of costs and payments, packing lists, venue information, facilities reports, and records of overdue loans.
Management and documentation of objects being deaccessioned and leaving the institution’s collection, either by transfer, sale, exchange, or destruction/loss, including transfer of title, records of approval, and reason for disposal.
A Collections Management System should be able to store data, edit data, delete data, access data through queries, sort data, and output data in the form of reports. Data is stored in the form of tables and is entered into the system (and sometimes edited) using forms. Queries are searches that help retrieve specific data from the system, and reports “are the means by which the results of a query are displayed or printed.”
An efficient CMS, like a good relational database, should not have duplicate records and should not require that the same information be recorded in more than one place in the system. At the same time, the system should be flexible enough to accommodate more data as the collections expand. The user must also understand that not all information must be entered into a Collections Management System; for example, complex information such as complicated dimensions and measurements. Some institutions may not want to record confidential information such as private donor information in a CMS and instead keep it in a manual file or a separate, secure digital file, with pointers to the file’s location recorded in the CMS. However, others argue that such confidential information should be recorded in the CMS to protect the information in the event of a disaster where manual files may be destroyed.
A CMS should have “a built in backup and recovery process” to protect data against not only equipment failure and disaster but also human error, which may result in loss or corruption of data. Redundant copies of the information should be stored in multiple locations, and the backup process may be automated.
Because a computerized system “demands a much greater degree of precision in the use of language for cataloging and data retrieval than does a manual system,” data and metadata standards should be applied in a Collections Management System. Data standards provide rules for how information is entered into the system, and data that has been entered into the system in a consistent manner allows for more accurate and precise information retrieval and for easier exchange of data between different systems.
The three types of data standards are structure, content, and value:
While most of these data standards apply to the cataloging and description of cultural objects, efforts are also being made to create data standards for natural history collections. Based on Dublin Core, the Darwin Core (DwC) standard is a data structure standard for biodiversity information whose “glossary of terms” are the “fields” and “elements” needed to catalog biological and natural history specimens and samples.
Recognizing the importance of data standards to many users, some developers advertise that their Collections Management Systems are compliant with certain standards. For example, the Adlib Museum CMS is “certified as SPECTRUM compliant by the Collections Trust” and “also incorporates other international standards such as the ‘CIDOC’ guidelines and Getty ‘Object ID.’”
A Collections Management System should have security measures that “ensure that only authorized persons are able to enter, edit, or view” information contained in the system. However, there is a growing demand for public access to some of the collections and object information contained in the CMS, which “helps fulfill a museum’s mission to educate the public and prove that the objects held in public trust are used to public benefit” while also encouraging collections staff to “support basic collection stewardship” by ensuring that information about the object is accurate before being made publicly accessible. The system should allow the public to be able to make and refine searches of publicly accessible information in the system.
A CMS should also allow collections staff to manage information on reproduction rights of the objects for which the institution is responsible, including type of copyright scheme being applied (for example, U.S. copyright or Creative Commons license), copyright ownership, and digital watermarks.
Since every museum has different needs, a museum should make a needs assessment before selecting a Collections Management System. The museum should determine what collections processes it needs the system to manage. The museum should also identify who will be using the system and consider such factors as collection size (both present and future), staff technology skills, and budget/pricing. Another recommendation is to map out both the short- and long-term goals for the new CMS and then determine how the system can help increase the museum’s efficiencies.
Collections Management Systems have their origins in cataloging and registration, and consequently, most systems manage information and records “from a curatorial and collections management perspective.” Conservation information in these systems is often limited to condition reporting and documentation of treatment history. While some advanced systems allow registrars to manage workflow tasks such as approvals and receipts, most systems are unable to manage conservation workflows. Many conservators also need a system that can not only store and manage conservation documentation but also easily share that information with other conservators and institutions.