Digital Museum Collections and Social Media: Ethical Considerations of Ownership and Use
12 December 2013
This paper examines the role of digital collections and digital information in the democratisation process of museums. The paper focuses on ethical and ownership issues regarding Wikipedia’s online encyclopaedia initiative to widen access to digital images and knowledge through digital media, for the wider public. The paper draws on three cases of national museums in the UK, namely the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. The paper argues that notions of governmentality, power, authority, and control - which traditionally characterise national museums - are still dominant in digital collections. This occasionally results in tensions that revolve around the issue of ownership of digital images and digital museum objects as well as their commercial and non-commercial uses. The paper shows that recent disputes and discourse related to the use of digital images by Wikipedians (active users of Wikipedia) have raised issues of authority and control not only of physical objects but also of the information and knowledge related to these objects. The paper demonstrates that the level of collaboration with Wikipedia reflects to some extent the participatory nature, philosophy, and ideology of each museum institution.
Digital Museum Collections and Social Media: Ethical Considerations of Ownership and Use. Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies.
Fouseki, K., Vacharopoulou, K. (2013)