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The Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre launches new online public collections database

The current situation world-wide has landed many of us on our couches and in our home offices, leaving many people feeling cut off from each other and from the communities in which they live. Museums have been stepping up with on-line content, programs and exhibits, to both entertain and educate as we have worked through the pandemic together.  Today, The Exploration Place Museum + Science Centre is launching a brand new, public interface with its collections and those of its partners.

Interestingly, curatorial departments have not seen a drop off in requests from the public, media and researchers, but instead, those requests are going through the roof. 

“For anyone who has used our old database system, you already know just how nice it is to be able to peruse our collection from the comfort of your own couch; this new database will completely up our game with new tech, new interfaces and new partners’ collections available as well,” said Tracy Calogheros, CEO of the Exploration Place Museum + Science Centre.

The museum’s partnership with Lucidea, through its Argus software, has allowed The Exploration Place to implement a collections management system that is flexible enough to handle the varying needs and access requirements of the organization and seven cultural partners (Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum, Huble Homestead, Mackenzie Museum, Valley Museum and Archives, Valemount Museum, Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, and Two Rivers Gallery) with a single database and both staff and public interfaces, delivered as a Canada-based SaaS (software as a service) solution.

“The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George has already shown true vision by bringing all of the cultural institutions together for planning, support and programming back in 2006; by adding this fabulous public portal, bringing all of the collections into one spot for the visitor, we are creating a tool that will allow all of us to both tell our stories more fully AND give the public a more seamless and robust experience,” said Calogheros.

Argus meets all The Exploration Place’s evolving functional needs, and because of its robust mobile access, web-based technology, adaptability, and cost-effectiveness, we and our partners are confident that we have selected a future-proof CMS (collections management system) that will benefit us all over time.

“We have had significant challenges over the last two decades with keeping our old database up-to-date with the rapidly evolving digital world we all live in,” said Calogheros. “Argus takes the responsibility for updating, keeping abreast of trends in technology and the access behaviours of the general public off of our team and leaves it in the hands of the technical professionals at Lucidea.”

“We are delighted that Argus was chosen by the Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre, together with their partners, and we wholeheartedly support their efforts to bring the region’s inspiring collections to the community,” said Lucidea CEO Ron Aspe.

“This has been a two-year journey,” said Alyssa Leier, Curator for The Exploration Place. “Selecting the right software and then porting the data over from our old CATSocial Database was a huge challenge. Special thanks to Steve over at the Regional District, he and his team did incredible work to make it possible to save our existing data rather than have to re-enter all of it.”

The Government of Canada, through Canadian Heritage, supported the project with a $50,000 grant in 2020, allowing the museum to go forward with this key modernization, despite the costs associated with data handling.

“We are launching today a little bit earlier than perhaps would be ideal, but, given the situation we are all in, we didn’t want to delay giving the public access to our collections, it’s useable as is, with great content already in place.” said Leier. “Both my staff and our partners will be refining the collections you see today over time, adding new data, new images and new records.  This is a living database that will serve all of us for many years to come.”

Interested to give this a try?  Click this link to go straight to the landing page for the database.

There are options in the new system that will allow you to email our curatorial team directly from a record, share your finds on your social media networks and save your favourite searches. 

“No better time than now to dig through our collective histories; with -30+ temperatures outside, an airborne virus afloat around the world, and streaming services running low on new content, we thought now would be a great time to dig into the archives,” said Calogheros.

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