Tagging, Folksonomy and Art Museums: Early Experiments and Ongoing Research


  • J Trant archives & museum informatics


Tagging has proven attractive to art museums as a means of enhancing the indexing of online collections. This paper examines the state of the art in tagging within museums and introduces the steve.museum research project, and its study of tagging behaviour and the relationship of the resulting folksonomy to professionally created museum documentation. A variety of research questions are proposed and methods for answering them discussed. Experiments implemented in the steve.museum research collaboration are discussed, preliminary results suggested, and further work described.

Author Biography

J Trant, archives & museum informatics

ennifer Trant is a Partner in Archives & Museum Informatics and consults on digital cultural strategy and collaboration. She blogs here (http://conference.archimuse.com/blogs/jtrant/) She is co-chair of Museums and the Web and ichim, and has served on the program committees of the Joint Digital Libraries (JDL) and the Digital Libraries (DL) conferences, the Culture Program Committee of the International World Wide Web Conference, and the Board of the Media and Technology Committee of the American Association of Museums. Trant was the Executive Director of the Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO) from 1997-2005. She was Editor-in-Chief of Archives and Museum Informatics: the cultural heritage informatics quarterly from Kluwer Academic Publishers from 1997-2000. Prior to joining Archives & Museum Informatics in 1997, Jennifer Trant was responsible for Collections and Standards Development at the Arts and Humanities Data Service, King's College, London, England. As Director of Arts Information Management, she consulted regarding the application of technology to the mission of art galleries and museums. Clients included the now closed Getty Information Institute (then the Getty Art History Information Program) for whom she managed the Imaging Initiative and directed the activities of the Museum Educational Site Licensing Project (MESL). She also managed disciplinary review and prepared the report of the Art Information Task Force (AITF), entitled Categories for the Description of Works of Art [link to a later edition] for the College Art Association and AHIP. A specialist in arts information management, Trant has worked with automated documentation systems in major Canadian museums, including the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, where she developed and implemented common cataloguing standards for the Prints and Drawings, Photographs, and Archives Collections. She has been actively involved in the definition of museum data standards, participating in numerous committees and regularly publishing articles and presenting papers about issues of access and intellectual integration. Her current interests center around the use information technology and communications networks to improve access to cultural heritage information, and to integrate the culture fully into digital libraries for research, learning and enjoyment. In addition to her consulting practice, Trant is enrolled in the PhD program of the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto, where she is researching the role of folksonomy in museums.