Museum informatics

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Museum informatics[1] is an interdisciplinary field of study that refers to the theory and application of informatics by museums. It is in essence a sub-field of cultural informatics[2] at the intersection of culture, digital technology, and information science. In the context of the digital age facilitating growing commonalities across museums, libraries and archives, its place in academe has grown substantially and also has connections with digital humanities.[3]


The earliest references to museum informatics in English are from Archives and Museum Informatics a newsletter and journal published on the subject from 1987–1996.[4] In the early 1990s, museum informatics projects and services developed at numerous American universities.[5] Cultural informatics was introduced into library and information science education in 2000 at the Pratt Institute School of Library and Information Science in New York.[2] Graduate courses devoted to museum informatics were offered from at least 2001.[6] PhD theses were using "museum informatics" in the title by 2004.[7] By 2007, an academic reader, Museum Informatics: People, Information, and Technology in Museums, edited by Paul F. Marty and Katherine Burton Jones, was published as part of the Routledge Studies in Library and Information Science.[8]


Museum informatics is an emerging field of academic study focused on the intersection between information technologies, museums and their staff members, and online museum data and services. The more general cultural informatics deals with, for example, information design and interaction, digital curation, cultural heritage description and access, social media, and the application of digital tools. Museums have embraced the application of museum informatics which has been supported by US federal grants and in particular by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).[9] The older term "museum studies" refers more to traditional curatorial perspectives rather than relating to the use of information science and information technology.[10]

Archives and Museum Informatics is a leading journal in the field of museum informatics. University courses relating to museology include a component on museum informatics.[6][11] The Museum Computer Network (MCN) in the United States holds an annual conference and runs the MCN-L electronic mailing list. The Museums Computer Group (MCG) in the United Kingdom also holds meetings relevant to museum informatics. The ICHIM conference series in Europe and the Museums and the Web conference series in North America cover aspects of museum informatics. Other relevant conferences include the EVA Conferences. Books are available on the subject.[8][12]

There have been a number of collaborative projects in the field of museum informatics such as AMICO, Artstor, the Museum Informatics Project (MIP),[10] and The International Council of Museums (ICOM), through Cary Karp, was instrumental in initiating the ".museum" top-level domain for museums on the Internet. Companies such as Archives & Museum Informatics in Canada and Cogapp in the United Kingdom help museums in using information technology effectively.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marty, Paul F. (2011). "Museum Informatics". Florida State University, USA. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Cultural informatics, School of Library and Information Science, Pratt Institute, New York, USA.
  3. ^ Digital humanities.
  4. ^ Archives & Museum Informatics Newsletter (1987–1996).
  5. ^ Lessons From The Berkeley Museum Informatics Project, CAUSE. 1994.
  6. ^ a b Heidorn Bryan & Twidale, Michael (2007). "LIS 490MUG / LIS490MUU Museum Informatics". Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. Retrieved August 2, 2011. External link in |work= (help)
  7. ^ Crofts, Nicholas, Museum informatics : the challenge of integration, University of Geneva, Switzerland, 2004.
  8. ^ a b Marty, Paul F. & Jones, Katherine Burton (2007). Museum Informatics: People, Information, and Technology in Museums. Routledge Studies in Library and Information Science. ISBN 978-0-8247-2581-5.
  9. ^ CHART, Pratt Institute, New York, USA.
  10. ^ a b "Museum Informatics Project (MIP)". University of California, Berkeley, USA. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  11. ^ Marty, Paul F. (2011). "LIS 5590 Museum Informatics". Florida State University, USA. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  12. ^ Jones-Garmil, Katherine, ed. (1997). The Wired Museum: Emerging Technology and Changing Paradigms. American Association of Museums. ISBN 0-931201-36-5.


  • Marty, P.F., Rayward, W.B., and Twidale, M.B. (2003). Museum Informatics. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 37, 259–294.
  • Marty, P.F. (2003). Museum Informatics. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science (pp. 1906–1913). New York: Marcel Dekker.

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