EMu is one of the most sophisticated collections management systems on the market, with a wealth of features and functionality

EMu has been at the forefront of collections management for more than three decades and is used by institutions of all sizes and collection types. A comprehensive and flexible collections management system, EMu is able to accommodate the requirements of any collecting institution, but is widely acknowledged to be the pre-eminent system for Natural History collections.

Minimum hardware requirement

EMu workstations must run Windows 10, Windows 8 or Windows 7. Older versions of Windows are available but no longer supported. The disk space requirement on the client computer is less than 150 MB (without caching of multimedia and reports), although at least 300 MB of available free disk space is recommended.  Minimum requirements include a video card capable of at least 800×600 resolution, with at least 16 bit colour.

Other minimum (and recommended) requirements are:

  • Windows 10 Pentium 1GHz CPU, 1024 Mb RAM (2048 for 64 bit Windows 10)
  • Windows 8 Pentium 1GHz CPU, 1024 Mb RAM (2048 for 64 bit Windows 8)
  • Windows 7  Pentium 1GHz CPU, 1024 Mb RAM (2048 for 64 bit Windows 7)
  • Windows Vista/2003  Pentium 2 GHz CPU, 1024 Mb RAM (2048 Mb as recommended by Microsoft)
  • Windows XP  Pentium 1 GHz CPU, 256 Mb RAM (1024 Mb recommended), Service Pack 2 or greater

Apple Macintosh  It is possible to run the EMu Windows client on Apple workstations through the use of Windows emulation tools. Some tools available include:

As hardware requirements are constantly changing please contact KE for further details.

Operating system(s)

The EMu server must run one of the following operating systems:

  • Linux
  • Unix

All of the most popular Unix and Linux implementations can be used, including:

  • CentOS Red Hat ES
  • Ubuntu
  • Solaris
  • FreeBSD

Windows Server is supported via hypervisor.  KE recommends Unix or Linux for large EMu implementations (over 100,000 records or more than 5 concurrent users). It is estimated that there should be one server CPU core for every 2-3 concurrent users. Either Unix or Windows is suitable for smaller implementations. KE can provide advice on the best server to meet your requirements.

Database architecture

The EMu database architecture is an object oriented database supporting nested and multi valued fields. The database provides superior search functions for all collection sizes from a few thousand to many millions. Worldwide, over 692 million objects, specimens and artefacts are managed by the EMu database architecture.

Public access support

EMu’s web architecture is an open system that enables the organisation to share and publish collection data. A Narratives interface helps manage and deliver interpretive and educational content to the web along with the core collection information.

Other functions include:  

  • RESTful Web Service support XML data exchange;
  • User selective publishing of data;
  • Publishing tools for portals including Europeana;
  • On-the-fly image delivery and manipulation including watermarking and zooming;
  • User management tools;
  • Flexible web site branding;
  • Tagging and user generated content;

Other optional apps include:  

  • IMu iBeacons – location tracking and content delivery to mobile devices;
  • IMu Tours – tour guide system using iPods, iPhones and other hand held devices;
  • IMu Maps – mapping tools for local areas (using x, y and z co-ordinates) or GPS and GIS toolsfor larger locality mapping. Uses layering technology to overlay different information on maps and plans;
  • IMu Object Locator – plotting of objects on a floor plan within the museum
Backup support

EMu requires no special backup software and does not use raw partitions. Any standard backup and restore software provided with an operating system or third party product (e.g. ARCserve) may be used.  Axiell provide backup options for their hosted service.

Data auditing and cleaning

EMu keeps a history of all data changes. All operations performed in EMu can be fully audited. The list of operations to audit is configurable and ranges from record operations such as inserting, editing, deleting, querying and viewing to system activities such as logins, database closures and maintenance. All auditing information includes the date, time, username, operation type, record type and key number for all database actions. All audits of record data include any new and / or modified data. All EMu audit records are read-only (even to System Administrators), ensuring that they are not tampered with.  The audit records are generated at the database level to ensure non-repudiation of the data they contain. The information is provided through the standard Audit Module.  Each audit record which contains record data is linked to the appropriate record so a complete history of record accesses / changes is always available.  EMu includes many tools for data cleaning, including Global Replace and Merging tools, as well as Look-up Lists for terminology control.

Single user cost


Five user cost


Additional pricing notes

EMu is licensed per concurrent user. The licence costs cover all software, digital asset management as well as the web interface. The cost per user decreases as more users are licensed.

Unlike other systems, the standard EMu package includes all museum/collections management modules.

Axiell also provide consulting, development and implementation services.

Axiell will negotiate a fixed fee and timetable for any work that is required.


A range of courses are available in the UK; both classroom sessions and in house training.

View upcoming training here


Technical support

Ninety days maintenance is included with the licence fee. After this time the customer may enter an annual support program priced at 20% of the current licence cost. A current annual support program provides all software upgrades; help desk support via phone/fax/email (9am-5pm GMT); remote issue resolution via modem or internet; and user community website and discussion forum.

Special features

Configurable multi discipline catalogue

Comprehensive museum management tools including:

  • accessioning and deaccessioning
  • bibliography
  • conservation and condition check
  • event management
  • loans
  • internal and external movements
  • insurance and valuation
  • locations
  • rights and audit trails.

For natural history museums additional modules include:

  • taxonomic nomenclature
  • collection events
  • stratigraphy
  • sites and gazetteer


  • Archives support to EAD/ISAD(G) standards
  • Powerful and seamless multimedia support
  • Thesaurus including support for common or custom thesauri
  • SPECTRUM compliance
  • Customisable Web interface
  • Flexible reporting to Microsoft Office, Crystal Reports or other reporting tools
  • XML support for information interchange
  • Narratives module (with HTML mark-up) for collection interpretation
  • Excel and XML import/export wizard
  • Unicode support
  • Work flow and calendar notification management, flexible for notifying users about tasks or just general reminders
  • Scalability – no restrictions on the number of records or images stored

Additional features:

  • Audit Trails – As standard
  • Password – As standard
  • Picklist – As standard
  • Thesaurus for data entry – As standard
  • Thesaurus for retrieval – As standard
  • Screen designer – As standard
  • Report writer – As standard
  • Modifiable data structure – As standard
Image formats

EMu supports over 100 image file formats, including:

  • BMP Microsoft Windows Bitmap Image
  • DCX ZSoft IBM PC multi-page Paintbrush
  • DNG Digital Negative
  • GIF CompuServe Graphics Interchange Format
  • JP2 JPEG 2000
  • JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group
  • PCD Photo CPCX ZSoft IBM PC Paintbrush
  • PNG Portable Network Graphics
  • TGA Truevision Targa Image
  • TIFF Tagged Image File Format

EMu’s image capabilities are extensible, automatically supporting any image formats registered by applications installed on a computer

Media formats

Audio formats supported by EMu include:

  • AIFF Audio Interchange File Format
  • AU Audio File Format
  • MIDI Musical Instrument Digital Interface
  • MP3 MPEG Audio Stream, Layer III
  • RMI MIDI in RIFF File Format
  • SND Sound File Format
  • WAV Waveform Audio
  • WMA Windows Media Audio File

EMu’s audio capabilities are extensible, automatically supporting any MCI compliant audio CODECs installed on a computer.

Video formats supported by EMu include:

  • ASF Advanced Streaming Format
  • AVI Audio Video Interleave File
  • M1V MPEG-1 Video File
  • M2V MPEG-2 Video File
  • MP4 MPEG-4 Part 14
  • M4V
  • MODJVC Everio GZ-MG20U Digital Video File
  • MPEG MPEG 1 System Stream
  • WMV Windows Media File

EMu’s video capabilities are extensible, automatically supporting any MCI compliant video CODECs installed on a computer.

Are image and media formats configurable?
Yes, the media format support is extensible and configurable to the needs of the organisation.
Integrated DAMS

Yes, a comprehensive Digital Asset Management System is included as standard.

Support for integration with other DAMS

Yes, EMu provides a suite of APIs that are used to integrate with 3rd party systems including DAM systems. The majority of EMu sites use the EMu DAM but in some cases there is an existing system that requires integration. Each integration is done on a case by case basis.

Business process automation

Yes, full process, configurable task management tools, calendar outputs and notification management are included as standard. Further enhancements and configurations are available to suit a larger museum’s business processes. KE can also create business process led web apps for targeting procedures.

Digital rights management

Yes, EMu includes a Rights management module as standard. DRM data can also be managed through EMu’s DAMS support.

Mobile support

Yes, EMu has a suite of web based tools that can deliver data to mobile platforms. The web architecture can be configured to output collection data to a wide variety of display devices, including mobile platforms. Mobile web sites can be created or apps can be developed that are specific to the iPhone, Android or other smartphone platforms. Axiell has a mobile tour guide system (IMu Tours) and has developed other mobile tools for use by curators. Axiell are using iBeacons for location tracking within museum gallery spaces. This technology is now standard for all iOS devices.

Remote thesauri

Yes, EMu’s Resources tool can verify individual or multiple pieces of data and automatically construct a query to a remote thesaurus over the web. The mechanism is flexible and can be configured by the organisation so that the relevant thesauri are used for specific collection areas or departments. Data validation services can also be configured for remote thesauri.

User generated content

Yes, EMu has a Narratives interface to help manage and track user-generated content. The content can be quarantined for publication and directly linked to related objects, people, places, events and themes.



Yes, an API is available as well as an import tool with step by step instructions.


Yes, available at http://emu.axiell.com/support/downloads/imu (does require a log in request)

Ready for Europeana Connection Kit (ECK)

OAI-PMH - Standard
SRU-CQL - Purchase
REST - Standard
SOAP - Standard
RSS - Standard
ATOM - Standard
Linked Data/SPARQL - Standard

  • DC
  • DIDL
  • DDI
  • MARC
  • METS
  • MODS
  • OWL
  • RDA
  • RDF
  • UK_LOM_Core
Museum / heritage standards
  • CIDOC CRM Core
  • ICOM Documentation Guidelines
  • CDWA
  • LIDO
  • CCO
  • VRA Core
  • CHIN Data Dictionaries
  • EDM

EMu has a flexible XML parsing tool for configuring data outputs to different standards. Other standards supported include: Darwin Core, MaNIS, OBIS, DiGIR and BRAHMS

Spectrum procedures
Object Entry (primary)
Acquisition and accessioning (primary)
Location and movement control (primary)
Cataloguing (primary)
Object Exit (primary)
Loans In - borrowing objects (primary)
Loans Out - lending objects (primary)
Condition checking and technical assessment
Collections care and conservation
Insurance and indemnity
Damage and loss
Deaccessioning and disposal
Rights management
Use of collections
Bibliographical records

Yes, EMu includes a Bibliography module to manage bibliographic records. Bibliographic records can be configured within the EMu Catalogue. This has recently been configured for the University of Manchester Library and the Leeds University Library.

Bibliographic / library standards

EMu supports ISSN, ISBN and various other bibliographic and library standards. EMu supports non-lending libraries, rare book/manuscript collections and special collections. EMu can be used to document the following individual bibliographic objects: books, citations, theses, catalogues, manuscripts, articles, journals, chapters, series, electronic, web sites, archived, digital medium, maps, map series and aerial photographs. Where relevant, bibliographic objects can be referenced to other objects as appropriate.

Archival records support

Yes, a full archive management system is included and fully integrated in EMu. The hierarchy viewer is designed for Archive collections and any digital assets can be associated to archive records. Finding aids and other tools have been developed to cater for archivists. EMu has the added advantage of creating links between archive and museum objects in the one system. Archive tree views can be presented online and made available alongside relevant museum objects. The IMu web architecture enables separate or combined searching across museum and archive collections. Archive support is included as standard with EMu at no extra cost.

Archival records standards

ISAD (G), EAD, AACR2 and ISAAR(CPF) are the main archival standards supported.

Integration with other library and archive management systems

EMu has full archive support included as standard and has tools for integration with a wide variety of other systems using different protocols. Options exist for the use of web services or the creation of a specific API to connect to and search across both the EMu data and the 3rd party system(s). For simple data sharing, scheduled exports and imports can provide some integration with other library and archive systems. EMu’s Resources tool can also query online library and archive resources if required.

Contact postal address

Barclay House
35 Whitworth Street West
M1 5NG, UK

Software developer name
Axiell ALM
Software developer contact name
Malcolm Howitt
Software developer contact address

Barclay House
35 Whitworth Street West
Manchester M1 5NG

Software developer email
UK users and sites

40+ sites; 400+ concurrent users.

A full client list, case studies and testimonials are provided here: http://alm.axiell.com/customers/customer-list/

International users and sites

Over 180 institutions including Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, American Museum of Natural History and British Natural History Museum.



The Natural History Museum Case Study can be viewed here:


A series of video interviews can be found here from customers including Bristol Museums, Chatsworth House Trust, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Ney York Botanical Garden, Winterthur Museum and Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History


How are assets stored?

RemotelyFiles stored in a central location on the EMu database server. This ensures they are accessible by any appropriately privileged EMu user.

Security features

EMu supports a variety of mechanisms for protecting access to digital assets. EMu’s sophisticated security model allows profiles for defining the operations each user, or group of users can perform. Such profiles extend to limiting access to information within a record, or even the entire records, based on any user’s privileges or even dynamic characteristics such as information associated with a digital asset. Access to EMu is authenticated and all data passing between the DAMS and the users can be secured by encryption.

File upload options

Digital assets can be ingested into the EMu DAMS in many ways, including:

  • Batch ingests
  • Directly through the client application, which incorporates many tools such as record templates to expedite the load process and ensure data integrity
  • Web based drop box
System support for file previews

EMu can be configured to automatically create any number of image derivatives of varying size and resolution for preview. To enable preview of text based documents such as Word, Excel and PDFs, an HTML version of the source document is automatically created for display within EMu. Audio/visual material can be previewed through invocation of its native application.

Search and image retrieval options
  • Simple Search
  • Advanced/faceted search
  • Saved searches
  • Category browse search
File-type conversion, image processing and editing

EMu has built-in support for:

  • Automatically generate derivatives of any image to satisfy different requirements / uses
  • Translate between different image formats
  • Generate HTML versions of documents such as Word, Excel and PDF
  • Seamlessly invoke native applications for conversion to other formats
File downloads and export
  • Simple file download
  • Configurable export presets
  • On-the-fly file conversion
  • Rendition to different resolutions
  • Send as attachment
  • Send as URL
  • Other (please specify)
Key-wording and tagging support offered in-system

EMu offers a variety of field types, including free text fields with full index support. As such, records can be retrieved using any word or term within a free text field. All Boolean operators are supported, as well as range searches for numeric-based data (including dates, times and geo-reference coordinates). A comprehensive range of text-based search facilities is available for text fields, including word-based, phrases, morphological, phonetic, proximity and wildcard searches. Results of independent searches can be merged, intersected or subtracted.

Other special file management features

Where a text based document such as Word, Excel or PDF format is ingested into EMu, the entire textual content is fully indexed automatically and can be searched using EMu’s powerful query capabilities.

EMu can be configured with features to discourage the illegal reproduction of digital images, such as applying a watermark to the image.

Configurable user access control

EMu has an extensive and sophisticated access management system that provides Administrators with the ability to control access to nearly every facet of EMu by user. The EMu security system is based primarily on groups: users are given access to EMu by assignation to one or more groups depending on their role. Each group has an associated set of permissions, which are thereby inherited by its user members. Individual user based permissions may then be defined to override group based settings as required.

The EMu security model goes further by supporting Record Level Security which allows dynamic control the level of access a user or group has over each record based on data or characteristics associated with that resource.

Profile-based workflow control

EMu’s workflow management capabilities allow the institution to manage various processes and assign steps to individual staff members, together with commencement and completion dates. EMu has in-built email notification to alert users of pending and overdue tasks assigned to them.

Due and overdue process dates are identified each night, a To Do List is emailed to relevant staff and a web page containing all tasks for the rolling week generated and shipped in standard calendar format.

User management options
  • Batch import of user profiles
  • User expiry
  • Messaging

EMu’s security model enables administrators to control all aspects of a user’s access, including the fields that can be viewed, the operations that can be performed, the digital assets that can be retrieved (potentially based on dynamic values associated with an asset) and restricting access to specific derivatives of a digital asset.

System-wide reporting options
  • User reports
  • Scheduled reports
  • Search reports
  • Asset reports
  • Duplicate reports
  • Audit logging
Integration options for the system

EMu incorporates IMu (Internet Museum) which comprises a suite of tools for presenting and distributing EMu data via the internet, and seamless integration with third party systems. At the core of IMu is a set of open source APIs with which web services can readily be created to inter-operate with other systems.

Desktop (Windows, Mac) application integration

EMu is a client/server application. The client side runs natively under Windows, and on a Mac using a Windows emulator. Because it is a Windows based application it can automatically invoke any Windows based applications such as word and image processors, and exchange data directly with such applications.

Other document editing client integration

EMu’s multimedia manager is configurable to associate any application with a file format and subsequently invoke that application automatically to view, edit and save a resource.

Other image editing client integration

EMu’s multimedia manager is configurable to automatically associate any application with a file format and subsequently invoke that application automatically to view, edit and save a resource.

Machine-to-machine integration

EMu’s internet toolset, IMu, includes a set of documented open source APIs that allow development of web services for seamless integration with other systems.

DAMS integration to a collections management system

EMu is a collections management system that incorporates a fully integrated DAMS. As a mature collections management system, EMu is fully compliant with a wide variety of industry standards including the SPECTRUM standard for museum documentation.

Auditing / reporting of digital assets

All operations performed on records, including insertion, editing, deletion, querying and viewing, can be fully audited. Audit details include the date, time, username, operation type, record type and in the case of a modification, the data before and after the update.

EMu comes preconfigured with a wide variety of standard reports and supports easy generation of new reports using tools such as Crystal Reports, MS Word and MS Excel.

Capture of information about the provenance of the digital asset

The history of the asset is stored and managed in the main catalogue of EMu. At the heart of EMu is the Catalogue module. The Catalogue module consists of descriptive records at the item (or record) level. EMu supports linking of descriptive records to provide associations and relationships between items to support hierarchy, provenance and original order.

Furthermore, EMu includes a Narratives module that can be used to enrich a collection and its objects by managing the stories behind them.

Shifting of single / bulk files to support digital preservation

Because the digital assets are stored as independent files and in their native format, filters can be readily developed to process raw multimedia files either singly or in bulk. Such filters can be employed to perform a wide variety of tasks such as formatshifting and creation of new derivatives.

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