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Faceted classification for museum artefacts: A methodology to support web site development of large cultural organizations

Elaine Ménard (School of Information Studies, McGill University, Montréal, Canada)
Sabine Mas (Ecole de Bibliothéconomie et des Sciences de l'information, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Inge Alberts (Cogniva Information Solutions, Gatineau, Canada)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Article publication date: 8 July 2010




This research project aims to provide a new visual representation of the Artefacts Canada digital collection, as well as a means for users to browse this content. Artefacts Canada Humanities is a database containing approximately 3.5 million records describing the different collections of Canadian museums.


A four‐step methodology was adopted for the development of the faceted taxonomy model. First, a best practice review consisting of an extensive analysis of existing terminology standards in museum communities and public web interfaces of large cultural organizations was performed. The second step of the methodology entailed a domain analysis; this involved extracting and comparing relevant concepts from terminological authoritative sources. The third step proceeded to term clustering and entity listing,which involved the breaking‐up of the taxonomy domains into potential facets. An incremental user testing was also realized in order to validate and refine the taxonomy components (facets, values, and relationships).


The project resulted in a bilingual and expandable vocabulary structure that will further be used to describe the Artefacts Canada database records. The new taxonomy simplifies the representation of complex content by grouping objects into similar facets to classify all records of the Artefacts Canada database. The user‐friendly bilingual taxonomy provides worldwide visitors with the means to better access Canadian virtual museum collections.


Few methodological tools are available for museums which wish to adopt a faceted approach in the development of their web sites. For practitioners, the methodology developed within this project is a direct contribution to support web site development of large cultural organizations.



Ménard, E., Mas, S. and Alberts, I. (2010), "Faceted classification for museum artefacts: A methodology to support web site development of large cultural organizations", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 62 No. 4/5, pp. 523-532.



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