Online collections, curatorial agency and machine-assisted curating

Authored by: Bodil Axelsson

The Routledge Handbook of Museums, Media and Communication

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138676305
eBook ISBN: 9781315560168
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter evolves through critical reviews of two strategic examples of museums that have reformed their collection databases with the aim of providing new modes of audience engagement. The goal of this discussion is to point out some implications that the two cases studies have for critical studies of online databases. The Swedish museum agency LSH and Rijksmuseum represent two main takes on how to navigate online databases: Text-based search and discovery-based navigation. Their databases mirror the challenges museums’ face on how to balance educational values with pressures to adapt to the effects of consumer markets. The chapter points to the need to locate curatorial agency in how algorithms and protocols interact with human curatorial agency, as well as copyright issues, and institutional histories.

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