Creating and Managing Object Records in Multiple Languages
A museum collections management system (CMS) with multilingual functionality offers significant benefits for institutions with culturally diverse visitors, staff, and collections. Museum professionals understand the importance of museums as inclusive spaces for education, public engagement, and societal change. To maintain a collection that speaks to everyone who walks through a museum’s doors, or visits its online collection, it’s necessary to implement effective strategies to engage multilingual audiences.
A CMS is at the center of your museum’s mission and must be able to address all issues of accessibility. Does your CMS offer multilingual functionality and cataloguing support? Within a collections care team, documenting and maintaining information in multiple languages helps to extend accessibility. When combined with cataloguing best practices, multilingual support can ensure all information is recorded and accessible, making it ready to share with your diverse audiences.
What Benefits Does Multilingual Functionality Offer?
Having multilingual functionality integrated into a collections management system can assist your institution in several key ways. While these benefits depend on your audience and types of collections, projects, and partnerships with other institutions, below are some of the core advantages.
Manage collections objects in multiple languages
To fully describe each object’s history and provenance within an accurate cultural context, it’s vital to have a CMS that supports multiple languages. Choosing to catalogue your collections monolingually can lead to incomplete information and missed cultural connections. For example, a collection of kakejiku (掛軸, “hung scroll”) documented only in English, without object names that reference the original Japanese, does not provide complete acknowledgement of the originating cultural context of these artifacts.
Publish multilingual collections information to your online collections
With online collections a standard feature on museum websites, having information in multiple languages will expand the accessibility of your collection. TMS Collections supports fields for managing object data in multiple languages, allowing for efficient multilingual publication to eMuseum. This allows audiences discover and experience these objects in their preferred language.
Create exhibition documentation for your diverse community
Documenting object data in multiple languages gives museum visitors a more complete understanding of each object—and a better, more inclusive experience—whether online or in-person. It can also streamline the process of leveraging CMS data for use in multilingual exhibition materials, such as wall labels, signage, visitor pamphlets, and other publications.
Enhance interface usability and user efficiency
With a multilingual collections management system, your users can work in the language of their choice. Allowing staff this linguistic flexibility is one more way to increase collections care team productivity.
Creating a Multilingual Object Record
To showcase multilingual functionality in action, we can look at this feature in TMS Collections, the industry-leading collections management system by Gallery Systems. Designed to accommodate global users and collections, TMS Collections supports data input in all modern languages. Its user interface has also been translated into 24 languages.
Let’s walk through how to easily switch the interface between languages, as well as the steps for adding multilingual data to an object record.
After logging into TMS Collections, click on the drop-down box located in the top right corner to view the list of available user interface languages. Selecting a language will change the entire interface, with all the field labels displaying accordingly.
Multilingual Functionality in TMS Collections
Below is an object record for a sabretooth tiger skull from a natural history collection. In this example, the TMS Collections interface is in Simplified Chinese, along with much of the record’s object information as catalogued by the user.
Natural History Object Record in Simplified Chinese
As another example, the following record shows the object title in several languages.
Multilingual Data Recorded in FlexFields
An institution may wish to catalogue other details in multiple languages, such as copyright information, scope notes, and historical data. The object record below shows how TMS Collections can accommodate this, with text entries appearing in Estonian and English.
Object Record with Notes in Multiple Languages