Journal Article

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  • How to use object biographies to manage your data
    Winters, L.
    Journal of Natural Science Collections, Volume 12, pages 66 - 73

    Natural history collections are not only a source for the earth- and life sciences, but they are also historical sources with cultural and sometimes emotional value. The histories of these objects are often not complete as peoples and cultures have been erased from their narratives. In order to be more inclusive and offer more perspectives on their collections, natural history museums need to expand their collection’s documentation. Object biographies are a concept from the study of material culture that state that objects can be viewed in many different contexts, based on the perspective of the viewer. We need to document these different perspectives throughout time and space in order to fully understand our collections and make them accessible. This article outlines a metadata framework for museum collections and archives based on the concept of object biographies, along with a practical way to structure your data on a budget. It closes with further ideas for future applications of object biographies in linked data.

    Keywords: object biography, museum collection, museum archives, collection history, data management, metadata framework, linked data, unheard voices, inclusivity, accessibility