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Activating Museum Data for Research, Scholarship, and Public Engagement

A workshop to launch a collaboration between scholars interested in exploring data of cultural material to pave the way for new visualization tools and scholarship of cultural collections.

Event, Workshop

Institut für Kunstwissenschaft und Historische Urbanistik, TU Berlin

The médialab will take part from september 30th to october 3rd in a data sprint, designed to deliver a better understanding of cultural datasets and conducive to formulate research questions based on their  complex exploration.

The advent of digitization and digital modes  of exhibitions have exacerbated the possible facets of artifacts.  Museums digitize their objects with the multiplicity that digital data  forms and current technology can produce: objects are reproduced in high  resolution images, contextualized with documentation of every  exhibition and textual information about the creator’s life and career,  and meta-data about all museum operations such as restoration, transport  and storing, and provenance, a detailed history of the object before  entering the museums’ collection. The networked object appears in the  life of the museum’s database. Today we can understand every facet and  movement of individual objects, inscribe them into a larger history of  the institution with every link that has ever been drawn in exhibitions,  press releases, loans, material or art historical descriptions. To date  museums display their digital collection with highly curated and  restricted access online and a study with complete access to a museum  database is unprecedented. We organize data driven workshops with our  institutional partners that give our selected group of participants  access to their collection database. The data sprint brings together  data experts, researchers from disciplines in the humanities with a  focus in art history, developers, designers, and museum staff of  different institutions. Collectively, participants will explore through  data visualization and software development the role, history, and  social context of cultural assets in contemporary society. Through the  study of the acquisitions, circulation, and preservation of cultural  objects we aim to develop new technologies that will allow a ‘distant  reading’, a quantitative approach to find abstract patterns as described  by Moretti (2015) and a deep dive such as case studies and qualitative  analysis of objects in museum data collections.