Digital Museums in the 21st Century: Global Microphones or Universal Mufflers?
Gibson, L. & Kahn, R.
Museological Review, 20, 39-52
Drawing on arguments that classifications are constructed and unnatural, yet both invisible and powerful, this paper considers how increasingly standardised online catalogues and digitised databases allow museums to reach larger, more diverse audiences than ever while simultaneously silencing the voices and viewpoints these devices exclude. By exposing the constructed nature of schema using examples of digital museum objects, we begin thinking of online catalogues as boundary objects capable of incorporating hybridity and individuality that challenge universalising narratives without necessarily descending into a chimera of systems that meet only the needs of a localised few. We also consider the possibilities for hybrid records and schema, which include a multiplicity of voices and allow museum records to become contact zones in their own right.