Artefacts and archives: considering cross-collection contextual information networks in museums

Paper
Mike Jones, The University of Melbourne/Museum Victoria, Australia

Published paper: Artefacts and archives: Considering cross-collection knowledge networks in museums

Archival material often provides the context required by curators, researchers, and other users working with material objects, contributing to new narratives and richer understanding. Artefacts and archives are already linked physically in exhibition spaces and intellectually in catalogues, books, and articles. Yet when it comes to collection management, many institutions keep artefacts and archives physically, conceptually, and organisationally separate. For museums, this leads to an over-reliance on implicit knowledge; and for online users it means expansive digital collections are often presented decontextualised.

In this paper, the author will examine the recent history and current status of intersecting artefacts and archives in museums—on the Web and in supporting systems—drawing on institutional and project-based examples from Australia and internationally. Through a better understanding of the intersection of these collections and the systems and data structures used to manage them, we can lay the foundations for future developments that will both maintain necessary distinctions in museum and archival practice and create new ways of digitally capturing, managing, and disseminating interconnected collection knowledge within and beyond our institutions.

Bibliography:
Online resources include:
Stories in Stone: an annotated history and guide to the collections and papers of Ernest Westlake (1855-1922). http://www.westlakehistory.info/
Museum Victoria – History and Technology Collections Online. http://museumvictoria.com.au/collections/
The British Museum – Collection Online. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – The Collection Online. http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – The Field Book Project. http://www.mnh.si.edu/rc/fieldbooks/
Spencer & Gillen: A journey through Aboriginal Australia. http://spencerandgillen.net/
Humanities Networked Infrastructure. https://huni.net.au/#/search
Social Networks and Archival Context. http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/

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