CollectionSpace - Profile


This profile was completed by the software vendor at CHIN's request and does not reflect the views or opinions of CHIN. It is presented for information only and does not indicate approval or accreditation by CHIN. Inclusion of specific products does not mean that CHIN recommends the software, but that members of the community expressed interest in learning about these products.

This information was accurate as of January 2018. For more information or to request updated information, please contact the vendor directly.

Product name


Vendor name

CollectionSpace (CSpace) is an open-source application supported by a non-profit organization. The program team does not provide services that many institutions require such as hosting, data migration, help desk support, configuration, server monitoring, upgrades, etc.; rather, we support a healthy ecosystem of registered service providers surrounding and supporting our community. Answers in the vendor overview below refer to the non-profit organization that serves as the home for CollectionSpace.

Vendor overview

Website URL

Head office

1428 W. Peachtree St., NW
Atlanta, GA
United States 30309
Year founded: 1936
Telephone number: (800) 999-8558
Fax number: (404) 892-7879
Contact person: Megan Forbes

Product overview

Product description

CollectionSpace is an open-source, web-based collections management system for museums and more. From cataloging and loans to inventory and media handling, CollectionSpace is used to manage the day-to-day activities of the curators, collections managers, and others who work with objects, artifacts, specimens, and more.

Disciplines supported

  • Art
  • Anthropology
  • Herbaria
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Bonsai Gardens
  • Design Materials
  • Local History and Material Culture
  • Public Art

Product launch date

The first pre-production release of CollectionSpace was in 2010. The first production release was in 2012. The last major release was in July 2017.

Product history

CollectionSpace has had the same goal since its inception: to design, develop, and share a platform for collections information management that supports traditional collections management activities; enables the integration of emergent and dynamic new technologies into the information ecologies of museums; and is an effective and affordable alternative to one-off applications developed in-house and proprietary offerings. 

Future development

The next public release of CollectionSpace is scheduled for the first quarter of 2018. This release will include new code for the application’s user interface (more below), a profile to support public art collections, and a new public user interface component.

Demo version

The full application is available. A full list of domain-specific profiles, e.g. for anthropology or botanical gardens, can be viewed.


Please note, because CollectionSpace is not a vendor, the answers to the questions below will vary by service provider. We are able to answer specifically for the CollectionSpace program team, which provides general support to the CollectionSpace user community, but not support in a traditional vendor sense.

Support methods

Users can reach the CollectionSpace program team via phone, Skype, email, or the questions section of the program wiki. The CollectionSpace user community also provides support to one another via email and the program wiki.

Support language(s)


Support availability and hours

The program team is available during normal business hours, both Eastern and Pacific times, Monday through Friday.

Support fees

None, although we limit the amount of support we provide before recommending that a user or implementer take his/her query to a service provider. Implementers who become members of the CollectionSpace community receive additional support. Annual membership fees vary by the size of the member organization.

Client support network

The CollectionSpace community is comprised of a wide variety of museums and other collecting organizations. Staff at each of these organizations participates in program governance, and provide assistance to one another via email and the program wiki. A partial list of CSpace community members is available.


Many training materials are freely available via the CollectionSpace program wiki, including a user manual and screencasts. Registered service providers provide synchronous training for CollectionSpace, at varying fees.

System updates and maintenance

CollectionSpace has between 1-2 major public releases per year, and may have smaller maintenance releases more often. All updates are freely available; individual service providers may or may not include upgrades in their standard pricing.



CollectionSpace is open-source software and thus is free to download and install. There are no annual licensing fees, nor are there any additional costs per user. Implementers may choose to become members of the CollectionSpace community and participate in project governance. Fees for membership are based on the museum or collection’s operating budget. Implementing institutions may choose to work with a service provider for installation, configuration, data migration, hosting, support, etc. Costs for these services will vary by service provider.

Maintenance costs

New releases of CollectionSpace are freely available. If working with a service provider, maintenance and upgrade costs will vary.

Additional fees

The code and documentation for CollectionSpace is freely available. Implementing institutions may perform their own configuration, data migration, etc. If working with a service provider, fees for services such as data migration will vary.

System specifications

Operating systems supported

CollectionSpace is a web-based application, and can be accessed via Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and other modern web browsers. Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge are currently not supported. CollectionSpace may be used on computers, laptops, or tablets with Apple, Microsoft, Linux, or Android operating systems.

Underlying database

The underlying database is PostgreSQL (Postgres), an open-source, object-relational database management system (ORDBMS) with an emphasis on extensibility and standards compliance.


CollectionSpace may be accessed via any device (including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones) capable of running a modern web browser, and with access to the internet or a cellular connection.

Hardware requirements

Client recommendation

Since the client side of CollectionSpace is a standard web interface, the requirements for the client are relatively light. Clients need only a reasonably up-to-date web browser (Internet Explorer is not supported) running under an operating system like Windows 7 or Mac OS X. Because the CollectionSpace front-end runs in JavaScript within the browser, a faster client computer with more memory will yield better performance. The speed of the JavaScript interpreter in the client browser will also impact some aspects of performance.

Server recommendation

We strongly recommend installing CollectionSpace on a dedicated Ubuntu 16.04.x LTS server. Most of our development and testing of CollectionSpace has taken place on Ubuntu 16.04.x LTS servers. That said, as far as we know, the CollectionSpace server runs fine on Mac OS X, Windows 7, and several other flavors of Linux.

Staff requirements

The client side of CollectionSpace may be managed by existing museum staff. Moderate to advanced levels of technical expertise is required on the server side for organizations wishing to self-host.

Plug-ins and/or modules available

A number of web-based applications (or "webapps") have been developed that connect to CollectionSpace and perform specific tasks. Webapps may interact with the CSpace API or connect directly to the database. Any CSpace implementer or service provider can write additional webapps to support specific tasks. All existing webapps are freely available; some have been accepted into the core CollectionSpace code and are supported by the program team, others have been developed by individual implementers and would need to be adapted for general use. Examples of popular webapps include a public research portal and a pair of apps for barcoding.

Third-party requirements

The client side of CollectionSpace must be accessed via a modern web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. Custom reports are written via the open-source application JasperReports. The server side has a number of third-party requirements, all of which are listed on the CollectionSpace program wiki.


CollectionSpace was designed to be interoperable with third-party applications. All data in the system is available via native API. CollectionSpace implementers have integrated with digital asset management systems, online public browsers, content management systems, and another third-party applications.


The CollectionSpace user interface generally follows WCAG. UI components are presented to users in ways they can perceive, and all functionality is operable via keyboard. Users can take advantage of browser-based accessibility features, such as the ability to zoom in at the page level, or install plug-ins to change standard displays to high-contrast.


CollectionSpace is highly configurable. Fields and procedures may be hidden, added, renamed, and modified. Depending on the internal IT capabilities of the implementing organization, these changes may be done in-house or with the assistance of a service provider.

Web integration capabilities

Cloud functionality

CollectionSpace is a web-based application. It may be installed on a server hosted by the implementing institution, on a cloud server (e.g. Amazon) controlled by the implementing institution, or a cloud server controlled by a hosting service provider.

Server location
Depends on whether application is self-hosted or hosted by a 3rd party.
Security protocols
Same as above.
Typical or average uptime
Same as above.
Back-end maintenance procedures and downtime
Same as above.

Browsers supported

CollectionSpace is regularly tested with the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. The application does not currently work with Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge. We do not generally test against older versions of browsers.

Web-based access for data entry

All end user functionality is accessible via the web.

Web publishing platform

All data in CollectionSpace is available via native API. Implementers may publish data to the web via public portal or, for example, via an open-source WordPress plugin. There is not currently a webapp for online exhibitions.

Linked open data functionality

CollectionSpace does not currently support linked data, but there is no impediment to it doing so if an implementer wished to design and support the development of this functionality.

User groups and security

User profiles

Each user or user-type may be assigned a distinct role in CollectionSpace. These roles are created and maintained by the system administrator. Multiple users can be logged in and editing at the same time. Multiple users editing the same record may result in data loss.

User groups

CollectionSpace uses role-based security to manage permissions. Administrators create roles with different levels of permissions and assign those roles to users. For example, an administrator can create roles with restricted permissions for interns or volunteer users. By default, there is an “admin” role and user with full permissions.

Visitor profiles

By default, there is a “read-only” role and user available.


CollectionSpace is web-based and may be accessed via any number of workstations.

Audit trails and/or edit history

CollectionSpace keeps track of only the time and user of last edit made to a record. The current CollectionSpace user interface does not provide an audit trail. Implementers may design reports that provide some of this functionality.

Offline access

CollectionSpace cannot run or access data without an internet or cellular connection.

Privacy features

CollectionSpace leverages the industry standard TLS/SSL protocol supported by all modern web browsers to ensure all passwords and information transmitted over the Internet remains private and secure. TLS/SSL must be configured and enabled at deployment time.

Data migration and stability

Import formats

Data may be uploaded via CollectionSpace’s RESTful API or via a CollectionSpace-specific XML format. Data has been successfully migrated to CollectionSpace from a wide range of collections management systems. Data can be imported directly by implementers or with the assistance of a service provider.

Export formats

Data can be exported via the CollectionSpace API or reports. JasperReports, the open source reporting engine used by CollectionSpace, can output data in a wide variety of formats.


Backups are the responsibility of the implementer, if self-hosting, or the service provider, if hosting off-site.

Standards and schemas

Metadata schemas

CollectionSpace does not include any specific standards-based exports. Implementers may create such exports via JasperReports.

Data content standards (cataloguing rules)

CollectionSpace is based on the Spectrum documentation standard, which maps to Dublin Core, CDWA, CCO, and the CIDOC CRM. Extensions to support domain-specific practices are based on the standards of those domains, e.g. DOCAM for variable media and Darwin Core for specimens.

Vocabulary standards

Implementers may import any desired vocabularies to CollectionSpace. The application does not ship with any pre-populated vocabularies.

Local terminology lists

CollectionSpace provides many places for implementers to add local lists, whether short pick lists (via drop-down menus in the UI) or larger controlled vocabularies. Lists and vocabularies may be multi-lingual.


CollectionSpace does not hold certifications or accreditations from any museum or cultural heritage associations. These certifications generally are available only for a fee, and are often out of the reach of non-profit and open-source programs.

Data entry and content

Media upload/linking

Media can be uploaded and stored in CollectionSpace or linked from an external source. Uploading is a simple process, just click on the file and upload. Images may be batch uploaded via an external webapp.

Media formats supported

CollectionSpace supports over 100 major file formats via ImageMagick, an open-source media processing application. Supported formats include JPGs, TIFFs, all Microsoft office suite file types, PDFs, and a variety of audio and video file types.

Data entry features

Copy and paste
Search and replace
Yes, via browser.
Bulk cataloguing
Batch edit
Yes, in some instances.
Batch location change
Duplicate record search
Template record
Date selection and formats
Mandatory fields
Required fields can be configured, but not via the UI.
No response.

Spreadsheet editing view


Geographic mapping

CollectionSpace can capture georeferenced data via it’s geographic location authority. This data can be exported to a variety of mapping tools; current integrations include Google Maps and the Berkeley Mapper.

Multilingual fields

CollectionSpace is Unicode compliant using the UTF-8 encoding for all data. Fields may contain multiple languages, and users may search across languages. Many fields may be repeated to include multiple languages.


CollectionSpace is integrated with two webapps for barcoding and barcode printing. The webapps can be updated to align with different hardware combinations.


Printable labels may be designed via JasperReports.

Search and reporting

Types of search supported

Users may perform keyword and advanced searches across all object, procedural, and authority records. In-record, authority terms are located via a predictive search interface.

Boolean queries
Query any field
Yes, with limits.
Sort query results
Yes, single-level with limits.
Saving search results
Filter search results
SQL-based search
Export search results
Yes, search results may be sent to a report.
Free-text (Google) searches
Search result views
Search results are displayed via a list.

Multilingual searching

Searching works across all languages and alphabets.

Report styles included

A list of reports included with the standard installation of CollectionSpace is available via the program wiki. Custom reports may be created via JasperReports.

Report customization

Any existing report may be customized via JasperReports.

Report program

CollectionSpace is integrated with JasperReports Library, an open-source reporting engine. JasperReports can use data from any kind of data source, and print or export a variety of formats including HTML, PDF, OpenOffice, and Microsoft Office.

Museum functions

Collections management function overview

CollectionSpace supports the day-to-day activities of museum collections staff, from cataloging and loans to exhibition planning and media handling. The web-based interface allows for collaboration among departments, while a relationship-based architecture increases connections among objects, procedures, and related media.


CollectionSpace supports the proper documentation of museum objects throughout their life cycle, from initial entry and acquisition to cataloging, loans, exhibitions, conservation, and if necessary, deaccession.


CollectionSpace has an Acquisition procedure that includes all fields recommended by the Spectrum documentation standard. Acquisition records may be linked to Intake forms, Cataloging record, Media records, and more. All personal names in the Acquisition record point to the Name authority.

Inventory management

CollectionSpace has a Location, Inventory, and Movement procedure that allows implementers to track current, past, and future locations of all objects in the collection or held by the museum (i.e. on loan or deposit). Locations are managed via a Storage Location authority, for which edit permissions can be limited, or the Organization authority for objects on loan or out for conservation. Custom reports allow implementers to create inventory lists by location.

Internal tracking

CollectionSpace’s Location, Inventory, and Movement procedure manages object movement within the museum, e.g. when objects are moved to exhibit spaces, or off the shelf for research or conservation.

External shipments

No response.


CollectionSpace has an extensive Cataloging procedure and a library of extensions that can be combined to support a wide range of collection type, including anthropology, botanical gardens, herbaria, local history and material culture, design materials, bonsai gardens, and public art. Data entry is controlled is many places by drop-downs and links to controlled vocabularies. Multi-valued fields and user-entered relationships allow for greater precision in data entry.


CollectionSpace includes procedures for both condition reporting and basic conservation.

Curatorial research

No response.

Publications and printed material

Print materials may be tracked via the Citation authority, and referenced throughout the application. Digital versions of bibliographic resources may be related to any cataloging or procedural record.

Rights management and reproduction

No response.

Risk management and valuation

Purchase prices, historic, and current valuations may be tracked via the Acquisition and Valuation procedures.


The planning process for permanent, temporary, and traveling exhibitions may be managed via the Exhibition procedure. Implementers may use the procedure to track work groups (e.g. curatorial, preparators), sponsors, venues, and object lists.

Loan management

CollectionSpace includes procedures for loans in and out that track dates, authorizations, object lists, and more.


CollectionSpace has an Object Exit/Deaccession procedure that allows implementers to track the disposition of objects and the deaccession approval process.

Digital asset management

Implementers may upload and store many types of media in CollectionSpace; however, it is not a digital asset management system. Integrations with existing proprietary and open source systems exist, and new integrations may be created.

Additional features and functions

CollectionSpace is continually improving. Our community contributes time, expertise, and code. Members work together to define and develop new features and functionality. These improvements are then made freely available to the entire user community.

Updated information (July 2018)

Future development

Version 5.0 of the application was released in spring 2018, and included a complete re-write of the user interface code using the React JavaScript framework. The full technical roadmap for the application can be found on the program wiki; planned improvement for 2018 and 2019 include new procedures to support transport, insurance, and indemnity; new tools for public browsing of collections information, and improvement to reporting.


As of summer 2018, the non-profit organization LYRASIS has assumed primary responsibility for providing services and support around CollectionSpace.

Support methods

For implementers hosting with LYRASIS, support is available via phone, email, and an online ticketing system.

Support availability and hours

For implementers hosting with LYRASIS, support is available between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.


LYRASIS provide synchronous training for CollectionSpace at varying fees. In addition, many training materials are freely available via the CollectionSpace program wiki, including a user manual and screencasts.

System updates and maintenance

For implementers hosting with LYRASIS, LYRASIS will be responsible for: the necessary maintenance of the servers and any required ancillary software for the normal performance of the service; daily backups of the service and restoring from backup in the case of a catastrophic failure; and installing all community-adopted updates.

System specifications

Operating systems supported

Microsoft Edge is now a supported browser.

Web integration capabilities

Web publishing platform

A plugin to support publishing collections data to the web will be released in late summer 2018.

Standards and schemas

Vocabulary standards

Implementers may still import any desired vocabularies to CollectionSpace. The system is now also able to ship with Chenhall’s Nomenclature included.

Museum functions

External shipments

A new procedure to manage Transport (based on the Spectrum procedure of the same name) will be released in summer 2018.

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