Crowdsourcing to enhance university art collections

“How could crowdsourcing be used to enhance New Zealand’s tertiary art collections?”, Museums Aotearoa conference, Wellington, New Zealand, April 2012

Inviting online visitors to comment, vote, ‘like’, or share online content has become increasingly common. While this kind of functionality may serve to identify favourite collection items, and demonstrate the value and use of collections, its contribution to enhancing collections is limited.

Currently, several New Zealand academic and cultural heritage institutions are investigating more sophisticated approaches to public participation. It seems timely then, that New Zealand’s tertiary art curators and collection managers consider how crowdsourcing could be used to enhance collections.

By drawing on the immediate and wider community, crowdsourcing has the potential to achieve tasks currently beyond the scope of resources. It could raise awareness of the collection, increase use of the collection and supporting resources, and provide a new way to identify and connect with future donors. Crowdsourcing may also prompt further incorporation of collections into course offerings, and stimulate new research.

This presentation provides an overview of crowdsourcing in a New Zealand context, and showcases six recent projects to illustrate some different approaches that might be taken. It identifies the potential ‘crowd’ for New Zealand tertiary art collections, and offers some suggestions for online collections, user-generated content and crowd curation, which may prompt new, complementary approaches to current curatorial practice and user involvement.