Cultural Collections as Data: Aiming for Digital Data Literacy and Tool Development


Friday, April 05, 2019: 2:00pm - 2:50pm - Independence East West: Panel: Cultural Collections as Data

Liz Neely, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, USA, Anne Luther, Center for Data Arts, The New School, USA, Chad Weinard, Independent Consultant, USA

Published paper: Cultural Collections as Data: Aiming for Digital Data Literacy and Tool Development

With the advent of web browsers in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the cultural sector made huge breakthroughs in collections research and access as museums and other cultural institutions began publishing their collections information on the Web. But several problems have continued to thwart the next revolution in re-thinking the broad ways in which museum collections research can encourage use of digital collections. Data ownership, authority in data validation and terminology, technological progress, a digital divide, data ethics, and algorithmic bias are a selection of discourses that need to be considered in a long-standing history of digitizing cultural collections to create a digital literacy of museum data. Considerate decisions about the development of new tools that allow museums to more easily share, visualize, comprehend and analyze cultural data need to reference these discourses in their extensive design. What are the possibilities for learning from digital humanities and promoting use of museum digital collections as data? How do we go beyond providing APIs and other open data sets to promote a transformation for how these data are used for exploration, computational research,
and creative re-generation?

In this forum, panelists will survey current practice and learn from the aligned discipline of digital humanities for a closer look at using collections as data. How can museums act to fundamentally change the way we think about publishing and producing tools for generating new knowledge? What are the ways in which museums can acknowledge, examine, and provide access to interrogate ethical uses of data and cataloging practices as part of the decolonization of museums?

Panelists will share concepts and work from the digital humanities, the field of interactive data visualization, examples from the panelists’ own projects with museums and other emerging collections as data usage in the cultural heritage field.

Always Already Computational: Collections as Data Project Team. “The Santa Barbara Collections as Data Statement.” Visited September 29, 2018.

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Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. “Cantor Exhibition Showcases Student-Created Augmented Reality App for Museums.” Visited September 30, 2018.

Carnegie Museum of Art. “ArtTracks: A project of the Carnegie Museum of Art.” Visited September 30, 2018.

Lane, Kin. “Data Visualization And Storytelling Around Museum Collections Using APIs.” API Evangelist Blog. Published June 1, 2017. Visited September 29, 2018.

Lincoln, Matthew. “Predicting the Past: Digital Art History, Modeling, and Machine Learning” Getty Iris, published July 27, 2017. Visited September 29, 2018.

Luther, Anne. ‘Activating Museums’ Data for Research, Scholarship, and Public Engagement’ - a new research project at the Center for Data Arts, Data Matters, The New School (2018), Visited September 30, 2018.

Padilla, Thomas. “Collections as data: Implications for enclosure.” College and Research Libraries News. Vol 79, No 6 (2018) Visited September 29, 2018.

Ridge, Mia. “Connected Heritage: How should Cultural Organizations Open and Connect Data.” Notes from authors presentation at International Digital Cultural Forum 2017, Taiwan. Visited September 30, 2018.

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