Museum’s Open Cultural Data & DH101

Museums have increasingly been joining the global movement for open data by opening up their databases, sharing their images and releasing their knowledge.

This week, Mia Ridge’s Cultural Data in Museums discussed how museums are making available their content and knowledge to the general public by utilizing open cultural data–that is, data that is made available through “machine-readable formats” by cultural institutions under an open license. This data includes anything from metadata, narratives, bibliographies, quantitative records, and so forth; and the open license gives access to anyone from outside the institution whom created it by clarifying permissions and restrictions.

I hate to bring this up but I can definitely relate this week’s reading to my team’s DH101 project last quarter, where we explored the Tate Britain’s collection of Joseph Mallord William Turner’s paintings. With the Tate Britain granting us access to their open cultural data via an (extremely comprehensive) Excel sheet of the collection, we were able to analyze and explore the data to ultimately contribute a unique interpretation of their collection.

In Cultural Data in Museums, Ridge goes onto conclude that open cultural data ultimately unlocks great potential for the museum to spread knowledge due to its web data’s networked nature. That is, each cultural dataset added contributes to wider knowledge and creates new possibilities for innovative experiences of shared cultural heritage. I feel like our website kind of exhibits this. The Tate giving us their open cultural data for us to form our own narrative and interpretations, it could potentially lead to a domino effect of other people seeing our website and then wanting to explore the data on their own to form their own  analysis separate and unique from ours’. Take for example one of our tabs on the website, Travels, which looked at Turner’s paintings in relation to his travels through Europe.

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Here lies the potential for someone to look even further into this data than we did to come up with an argument that may have not yet been brought up. Through this, I can definitely see Ridge’s point of the networked nature of open cultural data. Open cultural data leads to projects such as that of DH101, which can then possibly spark curiosity in someone else to further interpret the open cultural data, adding to network of knowledge.


5 thoughts on “Museum’s Open Cultural Data & DH101”

  1. I personally feel that relating the readings to your own project is wonderful, certainly not something to dislike referring to — to me, this post shows the actual application of Mia Ridge’s idea of innovation and expansion of knowledge when data becomes an open source. This blog does a nice job at explicating the reading and illustrating how your website further develops Ridge’s notion of cultural data.

  2. I enjoyed your DH 101 project! It is a great example of Mia Ridge’s argument in regards to the networked nature of open cultural data. Open cultural data, as you have said, unlocks great potential–the public can benefit from the extra knowledge that others have discovered, and museums can benefit from more visits sparked by intrigue and curiosity. There is a collaborative and collective nature inherent in this type of openness, paving a way for a richer web of knowledge. Although there are concerns about data and the ways it can have a negative impact, I think that ultimately it’s a great tool for learning, experimenting, and cultural understanding for both the museums and the communities.

  3. I enjoyed your DH101 project as well. It did a great job of taking information from a single painting and using technology to enhance our understanding of it as a whole. I especially loved the map of the places where the artist travelled and the history of different trends in colors the artist used during his career. It’s definitely an example of how digital tools can be used to further understanding rather than distract/ act as a gimmick.

  4. I agree! While people are still finding the usefulness and purpose for museum open data, I see our project as a clear example of what it can provide. I feel that from just looking at the data, the public may see it as useless, and some projects like the data bracelet do not provide much context or useful information, but i feel like when it is applied to a thesis it can bring to light unseen patterns.

  5. I definitely felt the same about our project! I felt that the open data presented for Turner really helped prove our thesis, that may have not been able to be supported otherwise. While some may just see open data as useless archives, I feel that when used in the right setting it can really be powerful.

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