hobbyDB & Museums – a perfect combination

young-christian-braun-smallMusings By Joschik

Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and his musings share some of his collecting experience. He recently joined the board of Auto-Archives, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization.

Visiting museums is one of my favorite pastimes and I’ve been to more than 400 of them (including personal collections that are so extensive and well-displayed that I count them as museums!) Museums play an important part in promoting collecting and I think hobbyDB can add enormous value to them as part of the collecting ecosystem, by allowing easy cataloging and, more importantly, showcasing and sharing their collections. This is why we decided to develop features specific to museums and large collection (see hobbyDB’s roadmap for details).

Museums’ software today serves mainly one purpose, keeping an inventory and giving admins access to it. Here’s an example;

traditional-museum-software

Museum Software packages are still stand-alone and not integrated into any other databases

As a first step, we want to give collectors and the public-at-large granular access to each item so that they know which museum has a particular item.

exhibited-on-item-page-mockup

A mock-up of a catalog entry showing which museum has the item in its collection

Next would be custom profiles for museums. These pages would explain the museum’s philosophy and how to get access to their collections. For example, “This item is in Room 8 on public view” or “This item is in the off-site archive, you need to give us two weeks notice and here is how”.

After that we plan to show all items in a particular museum with full search capabilities.  We want to ensure that these digital presences are aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly, the same way museums work hard on their physical presentations (like the Mint Museum of Toys with the below gallery).

Mint Museum of Toys

The Mint Museum of Toys in Singapore. Its founder Chang Yang Fa is a member of the hobbyDB Advisory Board

We also plan to extend the Wish List functionality so that museums can ask for items to be donated or loaned, either on a long-time basis or just for an exhibition.

We have already started working with Auto-Archives and the Shelby American Collection to have their volunteers document these two collections (with an estimated total of 300,000 items) and are talking to five other museums about doing the same.

american shelby collection

The American Shelby Collection not only houses the two most expensive American-made cars but is also custodian to thousands of Shelby related documents

In keeping with our ethos, these features will be free for museums, of course. We hope they’ll add enormous value and help them boost attendance – and help bring hobbyDB’s vision of being “the World’s Museum” one step closer to reality!

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