curate and storyspace: An ontology and web-based environment for describing curatorial narratives

Presented at: 9th Extended Semantic Web Conference (ESWC2012)

by Paul Mulholland, Annika Wolff, Trevor Collins

Existing metadata schemes and content management systems used by museums focus on describing the heritage objects that the museum holds in its collection. These are used to manage and describe individual heritage objects according to properties such as artist, date and preservation requirements. Curatorial narratives, such as physical or online exhibitions tell a story that spans across heritage objects and have a meaning that does not necessarily reside in the individual heritage objects themselves. Here we present curate, an ontology for describing curatorial narratives. This draws on structuralist accounts that distinguish the narrative from the story and plot, and also a detailed analysis of two museum exhibitions and the curatorial processes that contributed to them. storyspace, our web based interface and API to the ontology, is being used by curatorial staff in two museums to model curatorial narratives and the processes through which they are constructed.

Keywords: cultural heritage, museum, narrative, ontology, plot, story

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