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Web-based, open-source, Collections Management Software for museums and more ...

CollectionSpace is a web-based, open source collections management and information system for museums and other collecting institutions. You can use it to manage your museum's cataloging, acquisitions, loans, and many other activities.


If you're evaluating or implementing a CollectionSpace system, you can find readily navigable links to the currently available documentation in the left sidebar, as well as top-level links below.

Tip: The left sidebar makes finding documentation easier


To view the Table of Contents links in the left sidebar, click this icon in the upper-right area of this page:



Using CollectionSpace

If you are new to CollectionSpace, you can get a good sense of how it works from the demo available on the CollectionSpace website:  The User Manual describes how to use CollectionSpace to manage your collections. This manual also provides a useful overview of CollectionSpace's basic feature set.

Installing CollectionSpace

CollectionSpace is installed on a server and accessed using a web browser. No software needs to be installed on your users' computers.

We recommend installing CollectionSpace on a Linux Ubuntu 14.04 server.  Ideally, the Ubuntu server you're going to try to install CollectionSpace onto has been setup/created solely for the purpose of running CollectionSpace.  If the server is an existing system that is being used (or has been used) to host other software, you may encounter problems that will require advanced system administration and support. 

You can find server installation instructions here: Installing CollectionSpace.

Release Overview and Notes for v4.4


Areas of work included with CollectionSpace Release 4.4 are listed below.

  • Continued work on the community of practice profiles, including:
    • Final implementation and release of the  Herbarium  profile and related extensions.
    • Final implementation and release of the Local History and Material Culture profile and related extensions.
    • Implementation and release of the Bonsai profile and related extensions
    • Implementation and release of the Materials profile and related extensions
  • Design and development of a shared authority service CSPACE-6905 - Work related to shared authorities Open
  • Additional refactoring and acceptance of a Django-based community-contributed framework for web applications, that uses CollectionSpace data and APIs.  CSPACE-6758 - Django Webapp Contributions In Progress
  • Expanding the number of automated tests for quality assurance.  CSPACE-6754 - Automating QA test plans Open
  • Updates to the reporting software and documentation. 
    • Continued improvement of end-user documentation pertaining to reporting.
    • A number of new "canned" reports available for use in all CSpace deployments: Currently Available Reports
  • Other bug fixes as prioritized by the CollectionSpace community.

For the current list of issues - bug fixes, feature enhancements, and more, please see the 4.4 issues filter in the project's issue tracker.

Release Notes

  • Added support for "property-value-variables" for the Application layer's tenant settings.xml configuration files.  A property-value-variable is of the form ${foo} where foo is the name of an environment variable.  A property-value-variable will get substituted with the value of the corresponding environment variable value.  For example, if an environment variable named foo exists with a value of "bar" then the property-value-variable ${foo} would be replaced with "bar".  Use property-value-variables for things like passwords which you don't want in the tenant settings.xml files.
  • Added Application layer configuration for enabling/disabling tenants/profiles. In the <persistence> element of each tenant's settings.xml file, you'll find a Boolean-valued element <create-disabled>. A value of true marks the tenant as disabled and false as enabled. Most of the profile tenants' use a property-value-variable of ${CSPACE_TENANT_CREATE_DISABLED_OPT} for the <create-disabled> element. If the environment variable CSPACE_TENANT_CREATE_DISABLED_OPT is set, CollectionSpace will use its value to fill out the <create-disabled> value; otherwise, a default value of true will be used.
  • Now testing and evaluating limited functionality for a Shared Authority Server. When configured correctly, a CollectionSpace instance's authorities and vocabularies can be synchronized (server to client synchronization only) with another CollectionSpace instance. This allows the sharing of authorities and vocabularies between CollectionSpace instances. See "Configuring to synchronize with another CollectionSpace instance" for details.

Upgrading from version v4.1 or earlier to v4.4 or later

Upgrading to Tomcat 7

You'll need to upgrade the existing CollectionSpace Tomcat 6 to the new CollectionSpace Tomcat 7:

First, you'll set up the new Tomcat folder (sample instructions given here for Ubuntu 14.04):

Login to your Ubuntu server using an account with sudo privileges. Go to the directory where you want to install CollectionSpace. We recommend:

CollectionSpace runs as a Tomcat 7 server application. A pre-configured version of Tomcat 7 is provided with the CollectionSpace distribution package.

Start by downloading the CollectionSpace distribution package "tarball":

Unpack the tarball:

This will create an apache-tomcat-7.0.57 directory in /usr/local/share.

Next, make necessary files owned by the cspace user and executable:

You can now remove the tarball:

Then you will need to update any existing environment variables to reflect the path to the Tomcat 7 folder. Most likely, this will only be:


but, depending on how you set your variables, may also include: 


Changing a database table column name

You'll need to change the name of one column in the database:

Starting with version 4.2, due to an upgrade of one of its components, CollectionSpace expects that, in the accounts_tenants table of the cspace database, the column formerly named TENANTS_ACCOUNTSCOMMON_CSID will have been changed to a new name, TENANTS_ACCOUNTS_COMMON_CSID (i.e. with an underscore added between ACCOUNTS and COMMON.) As a result, you'll need to rename that column in your database to reflect this changed expectation.

(Note: if you've instance-qualified your CollectionSpace server, the name of the cspace database might include an instance ID suffix and thus its name may look something like cspace_myinstancename. If so, be sure to substitute that name for each instance of cspace in the instructions below.)

If you plan to continue to use your existing cspace database after upgrading to v4.2 - and you will want to do that under nearly all circumstances - you'll need to - just once - rename that column by sending two short commands to PostgreSQL.  To do so, connect to your PostgreSQL database server using either a graphical client or the command line psql client; log in via an account with administrative privileges, such as CollectionSpace's csadmin account or the default postgres account (if the latter is present); and then:

Connect to the cspace database:

Rename this column in the appropriate database table:

Adding new Environment Variables

You'll need to add several new, required environment variables (three when upgrading to v4.2, four when upgrading to v4.3 or higher):

New environment variable (CollectionSpace 4.2 and higher)Replaces earlier environment variablePurpose / notes


(no previous equivalent)

A string identifying a specific instance of a CollectionSpace server. It should begin with an underscore. The recommended value is simply _default  However, if your server will be part of a configuration where two or more CollectionSpace servers will be storing their data in the same PostgreSQL database server, set this instead to a unique name for your server; e.g., _myservername  (This string will be appended to the names of certain databases and database users, to help avoid naming conflicts.)

DB_HOST(no previous equivalent)The hostname or IP address for the machine/server running the PostgreSQL database server. E.g., localhost,, etc.
DB_PORT(no previous equivalent)The port number that the PostgreSQL database server is listening on. This is usually 5432.
JEE_PORT(no previous equivalent)The web port number used to access the web UI and services API. A default value of 8180 is appropriate. (This environment variable was first introduced in v4.3)

CollectionSpace System Requirements

In CollectionSpace System Requirements, you can find the system requirements for running a CollectionSpace system, as well as a list of supported web browsers for accessing your system.

Configuring CollectionSpace

If you are an implementer, consultant, or plan to host CollectionSpace, you can adapt CollectionSpace for the specific needs of your museum or client via the documentation in Configuring CollectionSpace.

The documentation in Configuring CollectionSpace focuses on configuration: changing the behavior and the look and feel of the system by making changes via web-based Administration pages and by editing text files: HTML templates, CSS stylesheets, XML- and JSON-based configuration files, and properties files.

To learn about customization - extending the system's functionality by working with the system's Java and JavaScript source code or adding code of your own - please see Developing for CollectionSpace.

Maintaining CollectionSpace

Once you have your deployment up and running, you'll want to take care of it. In Maintaining CollectionSpace, you'll find both operational suggestions and troubleshooting techniques.

Upgrading CollectionSpace

If you have an older version of CollectionSpace and want to upgrade it to a newer version, Upgrading CollectionSpace provides pertinent tips.

Migrating to CollectionSpace

When you want to migrate your existing data into a CollectionSpace system, Migrating to CollectionSpace can help you do this.

Developing for CollectionSpace

If you are building or integrating applications or scripts that talk to CollectionSpace systems, or are a CollectionSpace software developer, integrator, or implementer who wishes to extend the system's capabilities by working with its source code, you can find documentation on these topics in Developing for CollectionSpace. This topic area includes details about CollectionSpace's Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

Hosting CollectionSpace

If you're hosting multiple CollectionSpace systems, whether in-house or as a service provider, Hosting CollectionSpace can help you find resources relevant to this task.

Reference Information

Reference Information provides supporting information and requirements for CollectionSpace, and includes general documents that are referenced from across two or more of the topic areas above.

Documentation Feedback

Many documentation additions and updates are planned. Please feel free to comment on the CollectionSpace project's Talk Mailing List if you have suggestions for improving current documentation, or if there is documentation you would like to see in the future.

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  1. In the Configuring CollectionSpace section, a reviewer added this note:

    Need to elaborate on difference between developer and implementer documentation. Need to clarify not just what we mean by dev vs. implementer, but also when someone might want to use one set of documentation over the other (because they're not exclusive distinctions).