Fulfil Your Mission and Increase Visibility and Access with the Right Museum CMS

The BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum uses software developer Lucidea’s Argus CMS to increase accessibility and intellectual control over their unique and varied museum collections.

The BC Sports Hall of Fame offers an inspiring example of the many ways in which a heritage institution with a specialised, varied, and unique collection can utilise a collections management system with sophisticated (yet easy to use) features and tools to increase their visibility and fulfil their mission.

The Hall of Fame exists to celebrate extraordinary achievement in BC sport history. Each year, a diverse audience of visitors from around the globe experiences the collection representing 150-years of sporting accomplishments in British Columbia. As one of the largest sport-specific collections in Canada, the BC Sports Hall of Fame collection encompasses more than 28,000 artefacts and over 100,000 archival documents, each a unique piece of BC’s sport history.

When the pandemic shut down all public-facing operations, Mr. Beck and his team saw a rare opportunity to take care of several back-of-house projects—and finding the right museum collections management system was priority one. They sought funding for the initiative, and ultimately got a grant through the Museums Assistance Program. As part of developing the proposal and grant application, museum staff researched CMS vendors, including asking external peer colleagues for recommendations. They narrowed the field to four vendors, and once the project team had reviewed all the options, Argus was the winner.

At a tactical level, curator Jason Beck and his colleagues Rebecca Kirkham and Shelby McCannel selected Lucidea’s Argus CMS to increase accessibility for their staff and the public, and to give them intellectual control over their collections.

At a strategic level, they implemented Lucidea’s CMS to further the Hall of Fame’s mission to tell engaging stories of the individuals, teams, and organisations who have made achievement in sport such an important part of the fabric of life, culture, and history in the province of BC.

Museum professionals and archivists who have migrated from a Microsoft Access database or other more generic software to a full featured museum CMS will know that it presents some challenges. Per Jason, “It was a pretty intensive process to begin with; although we had an existing database, it didn’t always transfer over smoothly! There are always things you will want to change, or different fields you would like to capture. We were trying to impose the consistency and standardisation we had been missing. I always believed we would complete the project, but we had to work item by item, solving all sorts of problems along the way. Implementing a new CMS was a forcing mechanism for cleanup.”

Jason tells us that in addition to appreciating Argus’ suitability for a small museum with a specialised collection and a need for vendor hosting (SaaS), the versatility of the software impressed him, Rebecca, and Shelby.

Although they do plan to document their archival materials (especially the photo collection), the first stage of implementation focused strictly on the artefact collection. It encompasses uniforms, textiles, trophies, medals, plaques, plates, and equipment, e.g., baseballs, footballs, helmets, shoes and other footwear. Per Jason, there’s “… everything from a bobsled to a Zamboni. There are also souvenirs—items that athletes collected or received as gifts while competing all over the world, such as pins that served as good luck charms. It is definitely a niche collection, but truly varied.” This variety really shows the versatility purpose-built into Argus; it supports multimedia materials, enables expanded curation, and empowers the staff to prepare exhibits with ease—even when working remotely.

The BC Hall of Fame’s website invites the public and researchers to use the public portal to “Explore our artefacts through featured online collections or search for your favourite sports, teams, and athletes.” Happily, people do! They now ask the museum staff about specific items they have seen on the portal; there are fewer questions asking whether they have something in the collection. Before the portal was implemented, researchers or historians who used the collections and had been in for viewings typically reached out to Jason; he would do the research, and they would come in not knowing in advance what had been gathered. Now, they are “blown away” that they can search the collection themselves—and maybe not even with a project in mind, but to get inspired.

Jason told us the word that comes to his mind when he thinks of their implementation is “elevation”, saying, “It has taken everything we do to another level, whether that’s creating a new display, locating items, or in how we work with the collection. “

The stadium in which the museum is located, BC Place, will be hosting the World Cup Games in 2026. The collection storage area will be renovated, so the entire collection will be moved. Per Jason, “If this had happened five years ago there would have been hysteria. Now, we know exactly what is there and we know exactly how it is organised. This gives us the confidence to ‘roll with it!’ “