What is it?
Collections management software for museums,
archives and special collections.
Collections presentation software providing framework
for web and kiosk applications; includes media clients
such as a high-resolution image viewer and audio/
video player, and can transcode video & audio
A collaboration between Whirl-i-Gig and partner
institutions in N.America & Europe.
Freely available under the open source GNU Public
Provide highly conﬁgurable cataloguing tool capable
of supporting most any standard.
Provide a free platform for evaluating approaches and
ideas for your project.
Take full advantage of web services.
Provide robust public access tools – both web-based
Provide the tools that real-world projects actually
Version 0.5x (ﬁrst publicly released version)
Originally named OpenCollection
First deployed in 2004
Version 0.6/1.0 (aka. “Providence”)
First released in mid-2009
Addresses many of the limitations of the 0.5x model
that were exposed in 4+ years of real-world use in a
variety of settings
In use at 40+ sites (that we know of) worldwide
Features in 0.6/1.0
Web based: all functions accessed via a web-browser
Multilingual cataloguing: all ﬁelds support translation into multiple
Not object-centric: object and authority items (people, geographic places,
events, ﬁlm productions) can be given equal importance in the user
Conﬁgurable schema: all ﬁelds are conﬁgurable. No hardcoded ﬁelds.
Compound ﬁelds: conﬁgurable ﬁelds can be composed of many values, each
having a speciﬁc type (eg. text, date range, number, predeﬁned list, lookup
into an authority or web-service).
This makes support for complex metadata schemes possible.
Pre-conﬁgured standards: Can be automatically conﬁgured to support
various metadata schemes via conﬁguration proﬁles. Initial support for
PBCore, DublinCore, VRA, DarwinCore, SPECTRUM, and a selection of
use-speciﬁc custom schemas (eg. location-based photo archive, documentary
archive, exhibition archive). You can create your own metadata schemes.
Features in 0.6/1.0
Digital asset management functions: supports many image, audio, video and
document ﬁle formats.
Vocabularies: extensive support for authority lists and controlled vocabularies,
including Getty AAT (Dutch & English versions).
Georeferencing/GIS support: can import KML/KMZ ﬁles, use Google or
GeoNames.org for geocoding and generate maps via GoogleMaps API.
Providing web services: provides sets of REST and SOAP based web services
for search, browse, editing and handling of user-generated content.
Consuming web services: plugins allow cataloguing via GeoNames.org,
Library of Congress Subject Headings and GoogleMaps. Coming plugins
provide support for OpenCalais.org and Flickr.
Operating system choices: Can run on Linux/Unix, Mac OS X and Windows
Improvements in 0.6/1.0
Overhauled user interface: fewer clicks, easier navigation. Uses
shiny new browser features that weren’t available in 2003-2004
when the 0.5x UI was designed.
“Pluggable” search engine: can use any back-end search engine
for which a plug-in has been written. Five engines are being
developed for the ﬁrst release: PHP Lucene, Apache SOLR, and
MySQL FullText. New engines can be employed without having
to rewrite the core application.
Extensibility: support for implementation of custom plugins for
parsing and transforming media; user authentication; new value
types for ﬁelds (eg. custom web-service lookups); generation of
accession/id numbers; hooks into UI for additional functionality.
Better support for Spectrum-mandated functions: loans,
conservation events, object intake, etc. can now be modeled as
per Spectrum if desired.
Improvements in 0.6/1.0
Better media cataloguing: greatly improved tools for cataloguing
and annotating image, audio and video media, including time-
New media types: adding built-in support for media formats such
as OpenEXR, Adobe DNG and DPX (digital ﬁlm).
Improved playback of video and audio: completely overhauled
video and audio player with built-in cataloguing and annotation
tools and support for H.264.
Embedded metadata: Ability to extract IPTC, XMP and EXIF
metadata from uploaded media.
Repository support: can store media + XML serialized metadata
is preservation repository environments such as Fedora (http://
www.fedora-commons.org) or IRODS (http://www.irods.org)
Better Public Access in 0.6/1.0
Faceted browsing: browse collections with selective ﬁltering.
User-provided content: support for user tagging, commenting
and submission of resources.
Improved time-based media presentation: new Flash-based
media player provides display of time-based cataloguing during
playback and can display synchronized media (eg. images during
an audio interview).
Curated sets: tools for creating ordered, annotated sets of objects
or authority items and presenting these sets as slideshows,
timelines and maps.
Tours: tools for creating location-based “tours” of collections.
Mobile applications: an open-source iPhone application for
building museum tours based upon CA-hosted content is in
All of these features are developed by the community and are
open-sourced by their sponsors.
Online support. First line of support is active user forums on
Project wiki. Provides latest documentation and place for users
to design and discuss new features collaboratively.
Bug tracker. Bugs, improvements and feature requests can be
made on our publicly accessible bug tracker (http://
E-mail. We answer our email (usually).
Project has archivists on staff. Archivists specializing in various
areas (ﬁlm preservation, art, standard compliance, etc.) work
directly for the project and support users with speciﬁc needs.
Paid support. Paid support can be obtained, if desired, from the
Project or 3rd party vendors in your area.
All software is free to download and use. There is no
commercial aspect to the project.
GNU Public License version 2 (GPLv2): do what you want
with the software. Forever.
Source code is included:
Gives you the freedom and ability to modify the software
to suit your needs.
Software can never orphaned as user community has the
means (source code and legal rights) to ﬁx bugs and
GPLv2 gives you the right to distribute your modiﬁcations so
long as source code is included.
Project began in 2003 by Whirl-i-Gig, with roots in web-
based cataloguing systems developed in the 1990’s.
First users start working in 2005.
February 2007: ﬁrst public release.
November 2008: Name change from OpenCollection to
February 2009: First ﬁve sites begin using 0.6 for work.
Summer 2009: First public release of 0.6
Today: Most than 40 institutional users (that we know
Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin
American Museum of Natural History, NY
New Museum for Contemporary Art, NY
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hollywood,
Jewish Museum, Prague
Nederlands Institut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, Amsterdam
National Museum of Women Artists, Washington, D.C.
National September 11th Memorial, New York, NY
Hansen’s Snobliz (an ice cream shop!),
New Orleans, LA
Types of collections
Architectural design archives
Costumes and clothing
Biodiversity conservation (ﬁeld photographs)
Exhibition asset management
Whirl-i-Gig’s work on CA directly funded by users -
all developed code is contractually covered by the
Indirect funding through our related work in cultural
heritage and the natural sciences.
Indirect support from Kulturstiftung des Bundes,
Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, IMLS, NEH,
NEA, the New York State Council for the Arts
(NYSCA) and New York City Department of
Cultural Affairs through project partners.
Continue to develop broad-based international user
Establish CA as a viable platform for the widest
practical range of uses in as many locales as possible.
Expand support infrastructure: net-based community
support as well as local consultants.
Establish productive collaborations with
Release 1.0 before end of 2010!
Questions or comments?
Contact: Seth Kaufman
For more information on CollectiveAccess: