Democratizing the collection: Paradigm shifts in and through museum culture | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 4, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN: 2045-5852
  • E-ISSN: 2045-5860



The Queensland Museum geosciences collection is vast, with over five million individual items, intriguing, and of great interest to a wide variety of audiences in Australia and overseas. Recent developments in imaging technologies, the rapid evolution of the Internet, a corresponding increase in ‘digital natives’ and expectations of greater access to virtual collections are impetuses for museums, worldwide, to digitize their collections. This trend may be considered in a democratic context, as museums strive to provide online access. Their goal, in contrast to the two-­dimensional (2D) digitization of collections in Libraries/Art galleries/Herbaria, is to provide access to three-dimensional (3D) digital objects. The Queensland Museum, like most museums, only has a small portion of the collection on display and the most scientifically significant specimens are kept in a secure, environmentally controlled type store. This is one of the essential paradoxes of museums – that in order to protect and conserve natural history collections, physical access has to be restricted. However, we argue that in response to these emerging imaging technologies the traditional, scientific research culture of the museum is evolving and adapting novel research methodologies to enhance access to the most significant specimens held by the museum. As a result, the following artist–scientist–technology ­collaboration highlights our use of digital imaging techniques; specifically photogrammetry and medical computed tomography (CT) scanning to create ‘virtual’ type specimens. Two digitized type specimens are presented here as exemplars. We consider these as exciting first steps to democratizing the Museum’s geosciences collection, as an accessible on-line resource for a diversity of end users.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): collections; CT; curating; democratizing; digital; museum; palaeontology; photogrammetry
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