The half-day symposium aims to be a meeting place for people interested in the new and old challenges that data brings to the museums. Through thirteen international presentations from researchers and practitioners in the museum world, the symposium will look at the challenges of data through the lenses of audiences, collections, displays and museum organisation in general.

The symposium hosted by the Data Society network and is open to all interested people (with limited seats available) and active participation is facilitated through a process of joint note-taking and discussion opportunities.

We will open with a light lunch at 12 and provide a coffee-break, so please sign up and note any special needs relating to the food as soon as possible, but by October 23 the latest. Seats are given out on the first-come-first-served principle.

Register here 



12.30 Data in the museum, research agenda, Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt

Data about the audiences

12.45 Portuguese public museum audience study. First application and follow up, Caterina Foa

13.00 Ethnographic data from co-designing with audience groups, Dagny Stuedahl

13.15 Using data to understand the user perspective of the digital objects and displays in the museum exhibition, Pille Runnel and Agnes Aljas

13.30 Stretching and taking notes 

Data in the collections and displays 

13.45 In search of data – evaluating Tate Exchange, Cara Courage 

14.00 An inclusive and participatory approach to the museum's data collection: The democratisation of knowledge in museums, Urša Valič

14.15 Istrian traditional instruments online (ITI) - Virtual platform and database dedicated to traditional instruments and music, Mario Buletic

14.30 An experience beyond the ordinary, Josefin Floberg 

14.45 Do artworks leave data trails?, Peter Ride

15.00 Coffe and taking notes 

Digital and datafied museum?

15.30 Researching public archives and the interpretation of longitudinal data, Andres Kõnno

15.45 The Affective Practices of Public Sector Data Workers: the case of the arts, Susan Oman 

16.00 A study of Region Skåne’s digital culture policies and development 2013-2019, Maria Engberg

16.15 Unfolding New Dimensions – Analysing Collection Data with AI, Lukas Nohrer

16.30-17.00 Reviewing the notes and finalising the day






Data in the museum, research agenda

The talk will look at where we have had data in museums historically and what are the new data-related situations in the museum. The talk will introduce datafication loop and ask, where in museums can we already see the process happening and how could the process of datafication be turned towards the good of the museums fulfilling their role. Outlining roles and the potential of the datafication within each role, the talk will serve as an introduction to the other, data related.

Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt is a professor in media and communication studies in the Malmö University. She has been interested in the idea of participation and cultural citizenship in museums

Portuguese public museum audience study. First application and follow up.’

For the first time in Portugal public museum audiences were profiled through an extensive and representative survey applied to 14 national museums. Results provide a sort of general picture of audience segments and behaviours, beyond sociodemographic characterization, we can distinguish cultural practices, visitor experiences, expectations and levels of adoption of digital means. The follow-up introduces the opportunities embedded within the Portuguese Museum Network, that aggregates 156 public and private museums, and its current platformization process.

Caterina Foà is a junior researcher at ISCTE-IUL Lisbon University Institute, member of OPAC (Portuguese Observatory for Cultural Activities), OBS*(Observatório) journal manager and lecturer in arts marketing, and culture & media networks.

Ethnographic data from co-designing with audience groups

Co-design and participatory projects in museums do provide new forms of data; video-recordings, audio-recordings, photo, participants media productions, narrative and micro-writings as well as group interviews and individual interviews with participants after the process. How can these data be made relevant for curatorial as well as for audience research? I would like to present the multiple forms of data that we gathered during the participatory project connected to the exhibition FOLK. In this project, we worked with a group of 9-11 young people aged 15-19 years over a period of one year and 8 workshops. The project ended in a sound installation that was placed at the entrance of the exhibition. The focus on data gathering during the workshops will be discussed, as well as the analytical challenges we experienced when trying to extend findings across the different data formats. In participatory projects data can be analysed on several levels. In addition to the dimension that is related to the aim of the project, which is to understand what preferences and understanding the audience group might have of the exhibition topic and the issues raised, the data are also invaluable for learning about participation with different user groups and museum professionals facilitation of participatory projects. We are planning to do a follow-up analysis of the sound-scapes that visitors have produced on the installation. Visitor-produced mediations, such as sound recordings, notes and greetings in visitor books, represents another form of data. Theoretically this kind of data can be used to double-check if the participatory project really is successful, in the sense that the designed outcome also is meaningful for other people.

Dagny Stuedahl is Professor at Department of journalism and media studies, Oslo Metropolitan University. She holds an MA in ethnology, and a Dr.Polit (PhD) in educational design (University of Oslo). Along her academic career, Stuedahl has a dual and interdisciplinary focus on humanities, social sciences and an applied approaches to design of digital media, relating these to research fields as Media Literacy, Science and Technology Studies (STS), Participatory Design, Co-design, and the emerging field Digital Cultural Heritage.

Using data to understand the user perspective of the digital objects and displays in the museum exhibition

Museums have invested money and time to digitalise their collections and more and more often, digital objects, displays, touch-boards, interactive games and other elements are used to bring the digital collections to the museum space. The same digital objects can also be used to collect data about visitor activities, and this information can potentially be used to understand visitor engagement with these objects. With increasing digitalisation, the question is what kind of data traces are there about the visitor interaction with these digital objects. The presentation discusses some of the possibilities to understand user engagement with the digital objects within the exhibition space – what can be seen from the log data and what other perspectives are needed?

Pille Runnel is a research director of the Estonian National Museum. Her research has dealt with new media audiences, museum communication and participation at the public cultural institutions, visual and media anthropology. Her research on museums and cultural heritage has resulted in a number of journal articles, chapters as well as edited books, but has also been applied in the museum development. She is responsible for the research agenda of the Estonian National Museum and was supervising the production of new research-based permanent exhibitions of the Museum opened at 2016.

Agnes Aljas is Research Secretary of the Estonian National Museum, where she is the manager of international projects and the curator. Her research focuses on contemporary collecting, cultural participation and visitor studies.

In search of data – evaluating Tate Exchange

This presentation will begin with a precis of the key learning outcomes surfaced through the first two years of Tate Exchange evaluation and its emerging Theory of Change, and its ‘learning from the learning’ approach taken in its third year. It will then track back through its qualitative and quantitative evaluation methodology to show where data is found at Tate Exchange and how, and will close on questions it has of data with its programme and partnership development and status as a research centre.

Dr Cara Courage is a placemaking, and arts, activism and museums academic and practitioner, and Head of Tate Exchange, Tate’s platform dedicated to socially engaged art. Cara specialises in socially engaged art practice, her PhD focusing on this in the context of placemaking.

The Affective Practices of Public Sector Data Workers: the case of the arts

This presentation will reflect on research to understand how data work across the English cultural sector – and how data work for those who work in data. Specifically, it uses the testimonies of those working with diversity data that is returned to funders. It will present the relations that structure data’s production and consumption in the cultural sector, the people and processes involved and how Increasing demands for data – and expectations of what data can do – as a consequence of datafication - have changed the nature of certain jobs in the sector.

Susan Oman is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Sheffield. She researches how data works in relation to particular policy issues, including well-being, loneliness, inequality and class. Her research focuses on the role of knowledge in social change - in context. She seeks to develop practice and policy-relevant understanding through methodologically rigorous projects that have a practical impact in various ways. She achieves this through working with relevant stakeholders, academics and non-academic research partners across the cultural sector and broader policy domains.

An experience beyond the ordinary

Join us on a winding journey that takes us a little further, closer in and a deeper than we have been before! In early 2021, Malmö Museums will open a venue for visualization with a dome theatre and multiple digital labs. Right now, a dome with about 60 seats is being built here at Teknikens and Sjöfartens hus. The shows are based on interactivity with you as a visitor, and the 360-degree dome offers an immersive experience. To enable the quality of what is shown, a meeting place for creativity and innovation is created. Public, academia and private sector - all are part of an arena for knowledge sharing. With this initiative, we want to raise curiosity and create interest in science. We will make the world, research and societal development more understandable through visualizations. Wisdome will contribute to solving our common societal challenges. Here we will also develop and test new concepts and ideas in a public environment. Welcome on a journey of discovery in a larger world, in a larger context!

Josefine Floberg is Head of Exhibitions at Malmö Museums since 2011. Floberg has a special interest and responsibility in developing Malmö Museums digital solutions for exhibitions and accessibility. She has more than 20 years working experience of producing and touring museums exhibitions and digital solutions. Floberg has a Degree of Bachelor of Arts at Stockholm University and studied at Poppius Journalism School.

Do artworks leave data trails?

Topic and question: what are the issues for museums when they work with artists whose creative practice involves gathering or interacting with data? What happens if ‘artistic integrity’ conflicts with data management and protection best practices? Is it fair to use online data as an open public resource to be sampled? Does it matter if an artwork or art project is temporary and will not contribute to the collection? Where does an art project begin and end?

Dr Peter Ride: I am a researcher and teacher in Museum Studies at University of Westminster. I have worked as an art curator specialising in digital media since the 1990s and worked on some of the first curated internet art projects in the UK.

Istrian traditional instruments online (ITI) - Virtual platform and database dedicated to traditional instruments and music

The idea for the ITI is to come alive as a platform to create a virtual database of open access dedicated to traditional instruments of Istria, no matter where these instruments are physically located. We began with the instruments collection and data from the Ethnographic Museum of Istria. Gradually, we included in the web platform also other museum’s collections. An integral part of this project is to provide open access to information about instrument makers and other related photos, audio and video documentation materials. The process was not just about collecting, digitizing and organizing data. It was also about creating new documentation data. We hoped the web project ITI could eventually become a starting point in terms of access and consultation of different types of information and documentation on traditional instruments from Istria, which are located in various public and private collections.

Mario Buletić graduated from Università Degli Studi di Padova (Italy) in 2004 with a degree in Ethnology. He completed the Official Master Degree in Ethnographic Research, Anthropological Theory and Intercultural Relations at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona in 2007. Since 2009 works as a museum curator in Ethnographic Museum of Istria. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in Cultural and Social Anthropology at Ljubljana University.

An inclusive and participatory approach to the museum's data collection: The democratisation of knowledge in museums

The museums of the 21st century have encountered numerous societal challenges – from what do the museums mean in society to what do they do for society to prevent social exclusion. The democratic inclusion of different voices has come to museums through participatory and collaborative approaches that challenge the authoritative voice of curators and ask for dehierarhization of museum knowledge through differentiation of museum work and collected data. I will present how collaboration and engagement of people, defined socially vulnerable, in the »backstage« of museums (data collection and documentation) could improve the differentiation and democratisation of museum knowledge of society.

Urša Valič holds a PhD in ethnology and cultural anthropology from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. She worked as a teaching assistant and (young) researcher at the University of Ljubljana and University of Nova Gorica in Slovenia, and as a curator on an ESF project Accessibility of cultural heritage to vulnerable groups in the National Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia and Slovene Ethnographic Museum. In 2017 she worked on her own project on accessibility and participation for the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Romania in Bucharest. Currently, she is self-employed (freelance) in the field of culture and education.

A study of Region Skåne’s digital culture policies and development 2013-2019

My presentation is about an ongoing research project in collaboration with Region Skåne’s cultural department. The aim of the project is to study and understand the work of cultural actors in Skåne with digital development, competence development, digital strategies and policy work.

Maria Engberg: I am a senior lecturer in media technology with a background in English and digital humanities, and currently I lead the Malmö university research program Data Society. My research interests are within digital media, processes of digitalisation and datafication and their impact on culture, organisations and media forms. My current book project (under contract with MIT Press) with Jay David Bolter and Blair MacIntyre is called Reality Media: Augmented and Virtual Reality.

Unfolding New Dimensions – Analysing Collection Data with AI

This presentation will introduce my PhD research project, which uses unsupervised machine learning algorithms to analyse museum collection datasets. This project aims to push the art historical discourse beyond common boundaries, gathering knowledge with the help of algorithms and creating new connections between objects, their meanings and their place within collections.

Lukas Nohrer: I recently started my PhD in Museology and Computer Science at the University of Manchester, where I’m also working as a Research Assistant at the Department of Computer Science.