MW18 Workshop

Workshop Slides

View and download the slide deck here

Also, check out Nik Honeysett’s full “Collection Management Systems in Context” slides from this year’s AAM conference, which he gave a sneak preview of in the OC-CoP workshop!


  • Recap
    • What happened in 2017
  • State of the Data
    • How much is out there? Quick overview of what’s out there now
  • What’s the Point?
    • Discussion: Is natural history more connected than cultural? Why?
  • What’s the Difference?
    • Discussion: Are aggregation practices and standards keys to success?
  • Putting it in practice
  • What next?
    • Looking forward and how to participate in the CoP

Workshop Notes

Discussion 1

State of Data – what’s out there?

  • How much is out there – natural vs cultural history?
  • NH Records are kept in a variety of repositories (gbif, idigbio, etc.)
  • CH records are kept institutionally, or aggregators
    • Order of magnitude difference from institutions to aggregators
  • What’s the Point? Why are we or should we be doing this?
    • Why can NH institutions get things out more efficiently then CH institutions
    • NH has well defined goals and purposes for getting data out there
    • Specific stipulations on what NH institutions must do with their information (Convention on Biological Diversity)
  • WHAT ARE THE EQUIVALENTS IN THE CULTURAL WORLD (discussion/Question posed to audience)

What is the point?

  • Accessibility, making common connections across our collections
  • Why? Educational component, stuff that people cant see, expanding the reach
  • Support and sustain our mission
  • Public institution – who owns the data
  • What we really stand for, modern contemporary museum
    • SFMoMa, discussing how social injustice (gun violence in schools), students standing up for what they believe, what do institutions believe in and what do they stand for
  • Accessibility, access to collections, bringing in new audiences, helping current audience find what we have
  • Let the public access the collection broadly, fundamental to allow access and leave doors open (physically) 9-5, allow access all the time through online collections portal
  • Interest in online collections can bring people in
  • Democratizes the collections
  • Meeting donor expectations, most donors expect to see collection on exhibition which isn’t always possible physically, but can be accessed online digitally
  • Communities out in the world, that are stakeholders in online collections decision making (not all internal)
  • Driver to unlock collections, making collection available beyond the walls of the institution
  • Distributing data to create a wider body of knowledge
  • Promotes a strand of a window shop view to the institution, promotes the commercial aspects of the collection as well

Why are we doing this?

  • To connect, share information about artists, and promote education
  • Proliferation of knowledge, our work fuels scholarship and from this, more scholarship is developed
  • What’s happening in academic and how it can help others beyond that
  • People expect to know what we have, remaining relevant
  • Research, access for teachers and educators
  • Having reach beyond the walls of the institution
  • Research in a broader sense, curatorial research across institution – virtual repatriation of resources. People across the globe can see collection information even if they can’t travel to institution
  • Open movement: discussing the difficulty of putting both natural and cultural history collections online together
  • We want people to connect with collections, but we also want to connect with institutions

What are the common goals for cultural collections?

  • Providing materials to artists and their projects
  • Felt it was the institutions goal to make collection available to the public
  • Education and accessibility
  • Get something back from sharing information
  • Maybe it’s not possible due to copyright reasons to put in public domain, could you devise a quick way to get it out there (concept of digital loan system)

Do Natural History and Cultural Heritage share goals?

  • Promote collections, accessibility and education across collections
  • History shows that NH and CH were collected together – allowing that relationship to be maintained and presented online
  • Scientific culture (quantitative concept of big data) which drives this community and sharing of information
  • Different driver towards what is put online
  • What we make accessible aligns more with the stories we tell about ourselves, online collections allow us to share different stories – promotes diversity of stories when discussing objects and materials that may be in storage rather than on display at the museum

Discussion 2

Aggregation vs Institutional levels of putting information out there

  • NH World – GBif, Atlas of living Australia
  • What are the aggregators in the cultural domain
    • Europeana, EU platform for digital heritage
    • Virtual museum of canada, federal initiative
      • Administered by the Canadian museum of History
      • How it requests input – rather than uploading all records, they produce virtual exhibitions requiring narratives to be shared about the collections
  • Standards: DwC, CIDOC CRM (linked data community)
  • Who is best placed to be the aggregator?
  • What would an ideal aggregator look like?
  • What kind of standards should/would be enforced?
  • Can/should Natural History and Cultural Heritage share?
  • API utilization to share data
  • Getty thinks they are in the best place to be an aggregator
    • Getty portal, digitized art history books
  • Libraries do this very well, digital library of california (not really a library aggregator, shares cultural history information)
  • Art museums: concern that everything be vetted by an expert, within collections data – europeana can do what they do because there isn’t the obstacle of vetting regarding the data
  • Aside from dealing with copyright, also dealing with website that can support API and backend development – funding and development is an issue in cultural sector
  • API – many people know what it is, only one person can use it, but difficulty is that IT staff don’t necessarily know the collections data (need that crossover)