Breaking boundaries, creating connectivities: enabling access to digitized museum collections

Cassandra Kist, Quoc-Tan Tran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

2 Citations (Scopus)


Museum staff as gatekeepers to cultural heritage are central to enabling or constraining user interaction with museum objects. However, organizational barriers frequently hinder staff's ability to invest in expanding user access to digitized collections. In this chapter, we analyze staff practices that help create online opportunities for user engagement, which we argue is a process of actively expanding and negotiating infrastructural boundaries of connective capacities. These boundaries constitute and expose an "installed base", which refers to the backbone of infrastructure, and the existing practices and norms from which work takes place. Drawing on two case studies, our analysis suggests that changes to the infrastructure, including the expansion of digitized collections and tools, builds on and is shaped by the installed base. By centering user needs and leveraging their place in diverse heritage networks, staff are able to overcome infrastructural boundaries that shape and hinder practices of designing for access. This study illustrates, in particular, the ways in which staff are compelled to negotiate perceptions of what constitutes both an "authentic" museum object and a professional museum role in order to enable user access to digitized collections.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCulture and Computing. Interactive Cultural Heritage and Arts. HCII 2021
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2021

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science


  • museums
  • collections
  • access
  • digital infrastructures
  • installed base


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