An Actor-Network Perspective on Collections Documentation and Data Practices at Museums

Juhee Park


The improvement of digital technology over recent decades has advanced the ability of museums to manage records of their collections and share them online. However, despite the rise of research in the area of digital heritage, less attention has been given to a sociotechnical perspective on such technology. Drawing upon concepts from Actor-Network Theory, this paper presents actors associated with the V&A’s collections management system and its online catalogue. Digital design objects, the museum’s new type of collection, are seen as a driving force for change in collections documentation practices. This paper argues for models of documentation to change from closed to open and participatory in order to (re)present such objects’ materiality in collection records through the voices of multiple actors. This paper, highlighting the agency of data and technology, increases our awareness of the potential consequences of museums’ data practices where the integration of advanced technology (e.g., AI) will be implemented in the future.


Actor-Network Theory; collections management systems, online catalogues, materiality of digital objects, agency of data

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2021 Juhee Park

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

University Home