The innovative Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS) at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has set a new standard for digital infrastructure in museums. It has been built to leverage transmedia storytelling, supporting the Museum’s mandate to be fully accessible to all visitors, regardless of age or ability, and to encourage reflection and dialogue.
The ECMS encompasses structured and unstructured content-management applications. ECMS is an umbrella term covering digital platform content management, Web content management, archives and libraries management, museum collections management, search, collaboration, digital asset management, workflow management and user-contributed content.
The ECMS applications are delivered in three ways: on-premise software (installed on the organization’s own network), software as a service (SaaS) (Web access to information that is stored on the software manufacturer’s system), and a hybrid solution composed of both on-premise and SaaS components.
Multiple pieces of software were developed and managed in-house by the Museum’s Digital Platforms group. Technology Services Group (TSG) was a contractor for one of the components for digital asset management. The Museum has a small team without any redundancy in roles, so it was essential to build an accessible and scalable system. An internal team of four developers, along with IT support staff, was responsible for building an infrastructure that would support the work of nine mixed-media and software production companies, spanning over 46,000 square feet of exhibit space in addition to the remote applications (mobile, Web).
A unique, custom-built Application Programming Interface (API) forms the backbone of the ECMS. It allows for development on an infinite number of platforms leveraging the Museum’s digital assets, to achieve these core objectives:
• strictly separates content from presentation
• stores content once and references often:
o content is created and stored
o the same piece of content is referenced (pulled from, or pushed to) whichever end-point it will be presented in
o ensures the Museum does not spend resources producing each piece of content for each context where it is needed
o ensures the Museum does not spend resources reproducing content when a new context is added
• dynamically delivers content
• is open and allows the creation of business rules to constrain the system
• is completely modular and scalable
• is compliant with industry standards
The ECMS creates the platform for seamless experiences across in-gallery, personal device, and online remote end-points. For example, content that appears in a gallery exhibit can be redistributed across the Museum’s Mobile App for iOS or Android devices, the Museum website, social media, or repurposed for additional interpretation or public offering.
The ECMS also includes a thesaurus platform for the consistent application of controlled vocabulary for categorization and taxonomy. This provides curators the ability to cross-reference material for ongoing use in research and curation of exhibits.
The systems and methodologies used for the ECMS allow for the constant growth of the gallery exhibits, the online content, the reference centre and all museum programs. The ECMS infrastructure will permit the efficient adaptation of new technologies in a cost-effective manner across human, technical and financial resourcing.
Client: Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Exhibition Director / Project Director: Corey Timpson
Project Lead: Scott Gillam
Architecture Design: Corey Timpson, Scott Gillam, Justin Funke, Chris Rivers
Media Integration: Bruce Wyman
Producer: Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Software Development: Technology Services Group (contractor), Jason St. Louis, Gordon Currie, Inderjeet Singh, Bruce Wyman