Culminating Project Title
Digitization of Museum Collections: Using Technology, Creating Access, and Releasing Authority in Managing Content and Resources
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
Cultural Resources Management Archaeology: M.S.
College of Liberal Arts
Darlene St. Clair
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Through the use of new technologies and platforms, the Minnesota Historical
Society (MNHS) has been able to reach new levels of transparency in working with Dakota communities on the access, management and care of Dakota material culture collections. By digitizing and sharing information about collections and using an online platform for soliciting feedback - which then becomes attached to the permanent record of the object – the MNHS is relinquishing the authority of intellectual control over Dakota material culture which they have historically claimed to have. In doing so, the institution is not only opening pathways to meaningful dialogue, but is benefiting by gaining new insights and knowledge shared with them by cultural insiders.
By expanding upon this shared authority, the MNHS is also being educated in
regards to the traditional modes of care for items within their Dakota material culture collections. Over the course of the last few years, through outreach efforts, many Dakota people have also learned about museum best practices in physical preservation. In the past, this type of dialogue has not existed or has been extremely strained. Through sharing information and partnering, personal and professional relationships are guiding emerging professional practices.
By promoting online resources that can be accessed via the internet from
anywhere, the MNHS has recently begun fostering meaningful dialogue and partnerships. These resources include the Dakota material culture collections, and to a lesser extent, the photograph collections and genealogical records. In sharing these resources, the MNHS has not only promoted access, but has fostered reciprocal sharing of knowledge, in turn creating a more robust and complete understanding. In familiarizing new audiences with digital surrogates, MNHS has promoted the sharing of information, as well as the decentralization of authority. By completing this work in partnership with Dakota communities – often within their own communities – the MNHS is also reaching underserved audiences.
Gessner, Benjamin S., "Digitization of Museum Collections: Using Technology, Creating Access, and Releasing Authority in Managing Content and Resources" (2015). Culminating Projects in Cultural Resource Management. 3.