Elizabeth Kanost
Spencer Museum of Art

Spencer Museum receives $250K from Institute of Museum and Library Services for database upgrade

Thu, 09/01/2022

LAWRENCE — The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded the Spencer Museum of Art $250,000 to upgrade its collection database, MuseumPlus, to the newest cloud-based version. Together with an IMLS grant awarded in 2021 to redesign the Spencer Museum’s websites, this funding will help improve access to and the sustainability of the museum’s digital resources.

Spencer Museum of ArtThe Spencer Museum’s database is the foundation of all activities that fulfill its mission, including documenting its collection of more than 47,000 objects, organizing exhibitions and public programs, and recording data such as university and K-12 class visits. Much of this information is available to the public through the museum’s online collection. With IMLS support, the Spencer Museum will migrate more than 200,000 records and multimedia files to the new cloud-based system, increasing usability and accessibility for all audiences.

Jennifer Talbott, deputy director for operations and innovation, said the timing of this grant will allow the Spencer Museum to achieve goals outlined in its recent digital plan (pdf), including a complete redesign of the museum’s websites and online collection.

“Upgrading the database at this time will allow us to unite our existing websites on a more stable and sustainable platform, allowing us to develop customized tools and applications to better meet the needs of our digital audiences,” Talbott said.

In addition to supporting the museum’s online database, MuseumPlus powers a suite of five browser-based applications that present the museum’s collections, exhibitions and educational content in directed, audience-driven tools. These digital resources allow the Spencer Museum’s audiences to access its wealth of data to support visits to the galleries, classroom instruction, research and more. Rebuilding these applications with the new cloud-based MuseumPlus will ensure their longevity and make them easier to navigate for both users and developers.

This most recent grant from IMLS builds on a long history of their support for the Spencer Museum’s digital projects. They also funded the Spencer Museum’s initial work to digitize its collection in 2004, which allowed the museum to become one of the first U.S. museums to publish nearly 100% of its collection online in 2009.

Photo credit: Ryan Waggoner.

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