Herman Miller Consortium Collection

Designer Information | Project Documentation | Project Credits | Consortium Members

Project Proposal


Proposal to create an online database for the Herman Miller museum consortium


At the September 2000 meeting of the Herman Miller museum consortium, the consortium members enthusiastically endorsed the idea of creating an online web-accessible database of the consortium’s holdings. The complete holdings of the consortium collections are currently maintained on The Henry Ford’s collection management database, ARGUS, which is only accessible on The Henry Ford’s local network.

Consortium members requested that The Henry Ford, as the lead member of the consortium, develop a proposal for the development of an online database. Unfortunately, the bid received from a local computer firm was more than anticipated and work did not proceed.

However, the idea of creating a web-accessible database continues to hold great interest. Recently developed software that supports web-based databases now makes the project more affordable and achievable.


We propose the creation of a web-based database of the furniture and related objects held by the Herman Miller museum consortium members. The consortium collection currently includes approximately 750 objects, but the database would be designed to accommodate additions to the consortium collection. Although the primary audience for the database would be the consortium members, the database would be accessible to all web users. The continued and growing interest in Herman Miller’s classic designs makes this database of great interest to interior decorators, designers, consumers, collectors, and scholars.

Only authorized staff at The Henry Ford would be able to add entries, edit or make other changes to the database records. Each item in the database would include accompanying images. Records would be searchable by subject terms, keywords, type of furniture, date, designer name, consortium member, and other search points.


Existing ARGUS records of the consortium collection would be mapped and exported to the new database. Each record would be reviewed and edited. Additional subject terms and keywords would be added to improve search capabilities. Images would be created for those records that do not have associated images. The existing (analog) images would be scanned. We would seek input from consortium members on the design of the end-user product and desired functionalities.

We propose development of the database on the DLXS platform, working either with DALNET (Detroit Area Library Network) or Wayne State University. The DLXS software was developed by the University of Michigan to support online databases and manage associated digital images. Due to our membership in DALNET and our collaborative activities with Wayne State University, we anticipate no-cost access to the use of DLXS.


We propose hiring a graduate student from the information management programs of either the University of Michigan or Wayne State University to work part-time on this project for 1 year (between 60 and 70 percent of full-time). The project assistant would work with a team at The Henry Ford who would oversee the design and development of the project. The team would include curators and information management specialists. We anticipate keeping Herman Miller staff and consortium members well informed of progress and regularly soliciting input and recommendations, especially during the design phase.

Equipment and Supplies:

The project assistant would need the following hardware and software:

Networked PC with CD burner and scanner
Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia web suite

New photography:

We anticipate the need to acquire new photography of a number of items in the consortium collection.

Anticipated completion time: 12 months

Collection Size

Records: 398
Online Images/Media: 669


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