Situating openness in the new museology: A social constructivist approach to the MuseWeb archive

Wednesday, April 5th: 1:00pm - 2:30pm


Doctoral Candidate @ University of Texas at Austin

Paper Abstract

From open-source software for collection management to open access initiatives for public reuse, and to the recent global pandemic that shut down most of the world, the museum community is experiencing an ongoing transformation in what openness truly means. Adopting the social construction of technology as a theoretical framework and analytical method, this study investigates the changing attitudes and practices among museum professionals, especially how the intellectual precepts of the “new museology” have influenced the conceptualization and operationalization of openness. In particular, this study explores the archive of the MuseWeb conference and conducts a qualitative content analysis of all the papers presented between 1997 and 2020 related to the topic of openness. While the concept of openness may be abstract, each paper presented a museological instantiation of the concept that carried concrete and material implications. By comparing how these papers discussed openness in the museum context, this study traces how museum professionals have socially constructed the changing meanings of openness in the past twenty years, demonstrating a gradual, albeit not definitive, shift away from an institution-oriented understanding to an access-oriented interpretation that increasingly centered on the needs of the public.

keywords: openness, social construction of technology, new museology, MuseWeb, content analysis
ID: 11060