For two weeks, a diverse group of curators, scholars, and technologists gathered at Harvard to consider the turn toward openness in museum collections and the metadata that order them. The goals: to think critically about the challenges and opportunities that openness presents for museums and publics, and to refine and put into practice the concepts and skills necessary to make full use of open collections. Over the two weeks, participants worked with metaLAB staff, guest speakers, and each other to explore modes of storytelling and cultural practice that included data visualization, interactive media, enhanced curatorial description and exhibition practice, digital publication, and object-oriented teaching.
We started by laying out the questions we wanted to explore. We went from individual questions to the guiding themes underlying the group’s interests, and the interests of the wider community in which participants work and engage. These themes, seen on the chalkboard, intersected with the broad topics that structured the workshop’s first week: data and visualizations, across the analog/digital divide, curating, and publics.