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.
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.