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Striving to Persist: Museum Digital Exhibition and Digital Catalogue Production

Quigley, Aisling (2019) Striving to Persist: Museum Digital Exhibition and Digital Catalogue Production. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Although museum automation emerged in the mid-1960s, American and British art museums continue to have a difficult relationship with digital technology. Indeed, within the broader cultural heritage network, art museums have been particularly reluctant to disseminate their missions online. Particularly since the eighteenth century, art museums have remained beholden to certain perceptions of authority that are tied to the authentic object. Yet, as new technologies offer more efficient and cost-effective ways to store and disseminate information
and promise greater accessibility, these museums have continued in their efforts to incorporate digital methods into their practices.

The following document considers the role of information organization in the creation of knowledge and value within and beyond the space of the art museum by interrogating two major scholarly products of the well-endowed, early 21st century Western art museum’s ecosystem:
online catalogues and online exhibitions. Given their contexts, the questions sustaining this research converge at the junction of three major areas: the new museology movement, exhibition culture, and museum computing. Public-facing, museum-based digital scholarship practices have emerged fairly recently (mostly from the mid-1990s onwards). The impact of these practices within the space of the art museum has not yet received a critical treatment, so the costs and
benefits of this new mode of interpretation and production remain a mystery.

In this study, the author first defines physical exhibitions and catalogues to contextualize their digital counterparts, and building on this, examines two sites in depth using a case study approach. Although The Gallery of Lost Art and On Performativity are inherently different in that one represents an online exhibition and the other an online catalogue, they shared overlapping lifespans and emerged in similar technological and museological landscapes. They also documented ephemeral artworks. The data collected throughout demonstrates the significance of socio-technical infrastructures and project management approaches, and how museums have struggled to adapt these practices to produce new information outputs. Museum
computing seems to remain “disruptive” in 2019. Rather than revolutionizing through decentralization or democratization, computing seems to disrupt the mechanisms occurring behind the scenes in an art museum.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Quigley, Aislingaoq1@pitt.eduaoq1
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLangmead, Alisonadl40@pitt.eduadl40
Committee MemberWood, Stacysewood@pitt.edusewood
Committee MemberPeters, Erinepeters@pitt.eduepeters
Committee MemberCorrall, Sheilascorrall@pitt.eduscorrall
Date: 22 May 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 April 2019
Approval Date: 22 May 2019
Submission Date: 30 April 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 275
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Computing and Information > Library and Information Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: digital humanities, museums, online catalogues, online exhibitions
Date Deposited: 22 May 2019 12:31
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2019 14:22


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