Current Futures for Online Collections

Tuesday, April 4th: 9:30am - 11:00am


@ Independent Consultant

Paper Abstract

A collecting museum cannot deliver on its mission today without an online collection. This argument begins with the first curator’s indecipherable scrawl in a leather-bound ledger, traces the handed-down human poetics of collection data, and ends at digital transformation. Along the way, the online collection allows objects to circulate through cultural networks, while safely stored away. Museums must preserve not just physical objects, but their stories and context as well—the traces of objects and ideas in contact with people over time and through space. The online collection is where such traces are saved and shared. Moreover, it’s where new paths are made possible: the online collection allows new context to be generated, in new places, by new people with new perspectives, at the same time and in the future. The digital is where the object-focused museum becomes the people-centered museum.

Two online collection projects in 2022 showcase new thinking and point in an important new direction. Both are built on, a new shared data standard for describing museum objects. Getty’s new online collection showcases as a foundational infrastructure, and uses it to power an online collection rich with connections, data visualization and context. Likewise, the Yale University Art Gallery drives its new online collection with For both museums, offers opportunities for connection and collaboration across collections. At Yale, the new LUX initiative will put this idea to the test, as the Gallery’s collection will be connected with other Yale collections in a massive shared discovery platform, all powered by We’ve heard for years about the theoretical potential of linked open data and the power of connected knowledge. These projects put theory into practice.

This session presents a unique opportunity to consider the big-picture opportunities of connected knowledge, along with the project practicalities that come with

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