Week 3 Post

I found it interesting how Ridge’s article linked the public’s call to open data and transparency within their government to museum’s movement towards open cultural data. this move has always excited me because I feel that in opening up museum data to public use, it forces the museum to further analyze their collection and find meaningful connections as well as gaps in representation. As stated in Ridge’s article I feel that museums may be frustrated with the public’s lack of interaction with these technologies because most people only go to museum websites to check the hours and see what is on view, and these newly pubic datasets tike a large amount of time and money to produce.

This race to make museum data public I encounter everyday in my work at the Hammer Museum. I work with rights and reproduction and digitizing the Hammer’s collection of works. Right now the Hammer has a few works online but we are working to digitize the entire collection. This process has been extremely arduous with getting copyrights form artists, galleries, and estates and then getting images created for these works. As a student I was always frustrated by the lack of information museum’s provided on their website, however, through this internship I have gotten a lot of insight into the roadblocks that occur when creating this info. In the Wall reading we see the importance of standards in creating and presenting understandable and meaningful data. I think that with contemporary and modern art it is becoming increasingly hard to set uniformed classifications especially with medium. Many artists blur the line between previously rigid lines of what defines mediums. I found that in making my DH101 project using the Tate’s collection of Turner paintings it was hard to classify works as drawings or paintings because of the multimedia work of the artist and it became hard to discern which pieces were sketches and which were finished works solely by looking at the data. It is important to see the image itself. In flattening this to produce data do we loose the multidimensionality of the work?

3 thoughts on “Week 3 Post”

  1. Very true that museums have to go through their collection and refine everything when the archives are digitized. The collection I had for my DH101 project had very clean data, in fact, only about 15 records were missing information. I never thought about how we would have proceeded in categorization and visualization of our data had it needed more refining. It’s quite unfortunate that this is the case for most archives.

  2. You have lots of great arguments in your post. I especially agree with what you said about modern art blurring the line between types of artworks. Wall raises a good question: is it appropriate to categorize artworks based on the medium? Because indeed we do lose a lot of the richness of each multimedia piece when we limit it to just one category, like “painting” or “sculpture”. This points to growing methodological concerns for creating cultural data in the first place. But making it open would allow for people to engage with it in their own way, which I think would make the institution’s role of dictating data types less influential.

  3. You bring up a really great argument about the consequences in digitizing museum collections. In trying to meet the demand of impatient students like me and you, who rely heavily on websites for data, the museums are potentially forced to compromise the multidimensionality of works for the sake of categorization and organization–which I feel are two essential qualities of a “good” website database.

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