Museums Turn to Open Source During Lean Times

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 22, 2009

Some of the organizations hardest hit by the sagging U.S. economy are non-profits and industries that rely on donations and public support to stay afloat. Museums and cultural institutions are turning to open source software as one way to deal with declining attendance and lack of funding to cover operational costs.

We've already mentioned one Web-publishing platform that makes historical archives accessible, but there are several other open source projects that address the different needs of museums. They're certainly worth a look by anyone who needs to manage a large collection or create an exhibit.

Fluid is a project that aims to build new user interfaces for the content management systems, navigation schemes, and educational portals museums currently use. Its community, known as Fluid Engage, helps museum creators and gallery owners create multi-dimensional experiences that engage visitors via home computers, mobile devices, or an exhibit's physical space.

Madrona is museum collection management system that includes several collaborative tools like image manipulation, shared calendars, Web integration and other features that allow cultural institutions manage collections of any size. A paid pro version of Madrona is available but the equally powerful free version is just right for small museums with limited budgets.

CollectiveAccess is designed to manage large digital collections including images, audio, video, and documents. It handles large, complex catalouges including all the metadata associated with each item. Since it's completely Web-based, CollectiveAccess can be used by teams working across large geographical locations via any computer platform.