Curation Crisis

I found my article on curating in JSTOR. It’s called “Curation in Crisis”. The article concentrated on the curation of physical items, not digital ones. The main problem the article highlighted is that a lot of museums and science centers are running out of places to store curated collections of artifacts. On top of that, a lot of the items that are being stored are not being preserved properly, or in proper storage conditions.

One of the seemingly easy answers to the problem is just to get rid of some of the less important artifacts. However, many scientists believe that technology of the future will be able to get more information from the artifacts, much like DNA testing and carbon dating has helped scientists understand more about older artifacts. Another suggestion people have made is to simply stop collecting so much stuff. That raises the problem of missing important information though, as well as possibly inferring things about artifacts that could possibly be wrong.

One thing that could be done to help with the curation crisis is digital archiving. There are a lot of things, particularly documents, that can be put online and preserved. For example, one archive recently put 1.5 million pages of war diaries from World War I online.  The archive is asking for the public’s help to go through the pages, and pick out relevant information such as names and dates. This information could then be used to organize the huge collection into a searchable online database that researchers could use. This eliminates the problem of space and preservation techniques, as well as makes a big collection available to a very big number of people. Digital preservation would not work with a lot of physical artifacts, and the problem remains of what to do with those items, but it could at least help to create a little bit more space in museums and science centers.

Here’s a link to the WWI project if anyone is interested.


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