Spencer Museum of Art awarded $250K to upgrade online database

FILE - KU campus
FILE - KU campus(WIBW)
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 12:46 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - The Spencer Museum of Art now has $250,000 to help move its online database to the newest cloud-based version.

The University of Kansas says on Sept. 1 that the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences has awarded the Spencer Museum of Art a $250,000 grant to upgrade its collection database, MuseumPlus, to the newest cloud-based version.

Coupled with an IMLS grant awarded in 2021 to redesign the museum’s websites, KU said the funds will help improve access to and the sustainability of the Spencer’s digital resources.

KU indicated that the museum’s database is the foundation of all activities fulfilling its mission - including documenting its collection of more than 47,000 pieces, organizing exhibitions and public programs, and recording data like university and K-12 class visits.

The University said much of the information on the Spencer’s website is available to the public through its online collection. With IMLS support, it said the museum will migrate more than 200,000 records and multimedia files to the new cloud-based system which will increase usability and accessibility.

Jennifer Talbott, deputy director for operations and innovation, said the timing of the grant will allow the museum to achieve goals outlined in its recent digital plan - including a complete redesign of the museum’s website 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 the support of the database, KU said MuseumPlus powers a suite of five browser-based apps that presented the museum’s collections, exhibits and educational content in directed, audience-driven tools. It said the resources allow audiences to access the museum’s wealth of data to support visits to the galleries, classroom instruction, research and more.

The University noted that rebuilding these apps with the new cloud-based MuseumPlus will ensure their longevity and make them easier to navigate for users and developers.

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

To access the Spencer Museum’s website, click HERE.