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Contribution at ‘The Art Museum in the Digital Age – 2021’ International Online Conference

Speaker: Dominic Oldman
Abstract: Data is an increasingly important medium in modern information networks. However, legacy data standards and narrow technological approaches are not aligned with new narratives and fail to expose the reality of collections in terms of their historical and present context. Data can contradict other Museum messages by artificially limiting the boundaries of data generation and thereby affecting its content, leading to issues of bias and the omission of information relevant to social issues important to wider audiences. Instead of describing collections in the context of the display cabinet and the storage stack using ‘essentialist’ vocabularies, data needs to start placing collections in the real world, using a dynamic, flexible, and collaborative framework for representing wider perspectives. Unlike established digital indexes and data references that claim Western neutrality, achieving a type of objectivity based on a diversity of knowledge requires a transition of documentation systems into effective, meaningful, and collaborative knowledge systems. Such an approach can strengthen both internal and external information and research processes restricted by outmoded IT orientated database approaches.

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