Enabling multiple voices in the museum: Challenges and Approaches

Paul Mulholland*, Enrico Daga, Marilena Daquino, Lily Diaz-Kommonen, Aldo Gangemi, Tsvika Kuflik, Alan Weckler, Mark Mguire, Silvio Peroni, Sofia Pescari

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    Museums, rather than providing an authoritative account, increasingly attempt to present multiple voices related to their collection and exhibitions. Citizen Curation is proposed as a way of achieving this aim by supporting citizens to share their own interpretations of museum objects and reflect on the variety of interpretations contributed by others. This paper discusses five challenges in the development of methods and tools to support Citizen Curation. First, visitor responses elicited by museums can often be too disparate to be brought together in a conversation around museum objects. Providing specific questions or calls to action can help
    to elicit more focussed responses that can be combined in an exhibition space. Second, how can Citizen Curation be informed by artistic discourse while still promoting multiple voices? Techniques such as Visual Thinking Strategies can be used to not only bring together multiple perspectives but also supplement the interpretive process with additional museum information. Third, metadata practices tend to focus on recording the primary meaning of artefacts rather than multiple meanings and interpretations. Novel metadata approaches can be used to also collect the connotative meanings that emerge in personal encounters with museum artefacts. Fourth, social media platforms often introduce challenges related to controlling and managing
    the use made of online resources and identities. Technical approaches based on Distributed Online Social Networks can support museums and citizens in managing the content they share online. Fifth, the nature of online content recommendation systems can work against visitor access to diverse voices by providing more of the same. The same underlying techniques can be used differently to prioritise access to a variety of opinions. Citizen Curation, as a way of supporting museum participation, could potentially help to address contemporary concerns such as the decolonialisation of museums and enabling cultural participation when access to physical sites is restricted.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)259-266
    Number of pages8
    JournalDigital Culture & Society
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2021
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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