The exponential development of computing, which began in the mid-1970s (then followed by its widespread democratisation in the 1980s) has profoundly transformed our society. The shift from paper to computerised files, which is one of its consequences, has been a major revolution for many departments and institutions.
In Geneva’s museum world, the biggest challenge has been to establish an electronic catalogue to inventory our substantial collections. Some experimental tests took place in the 1970s (Musée d’art et d’histoire / Geneva University) followed by several separate projects created in 1985 within the museums of the City of Geneva. It was not until 1995 that some systems were put together in hope of harmonising and migrating all inventory data to a single management software. A unifying project named Musinfo was born. According to the aforementioned institutions, the software internally developed by the Directorate of Information and Communication Systems (DSIC) contained multiple applications which favoured the sharing of documentary knowledge and tools.
As of November 2002, there were 21,685 computerised records in the Ariana Museum’s database on a set of pieces estimated at the time at 22,500. Between 2008 and 2009, the Musinfo program, notably operated by the Musée Ariana and the Musée d’art et d’histoire de Genève, was gradually replaced by MuseumPlus – a very complete software package developed by the Swiss company Zetcom and now used by many prestigious institutions around the world.
Semi-automatic data transfer between software and databases can sometimes stock some unpleasant surprises and require careful analysis of each inventory sheet as a result.
Nowadays, the Ariana database accounts for 27,371 records for which each object has at least one photographic edition.