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Museums and digital era: preserving art through databases

Luis D. Rivero Moreno (Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain)

Collection and Curation

ISSN: 2514-9326

Article publication date: 26 September 2019

Issue publication date: 26 September 2019




Digital language has meant a revolution in the methods of production, distribution and conservation of contemporary art. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the new status of museums within the digital age. Works using new media must be understood as spaces of non-hierarchical communication where an artist’s role is diluted and the public becomes a user that completes an open process. Therefore, the function of the museum is challenged, being no longer a moral authority or a place of storing physical works. Because of its instability and obsolescence, the only valid method for the conservation of digital art is permanence through change.


This research contrasts the theoretical material emerged in the past years related to the characteristic of new media to the practical work of conservation of digital pieces made by the new generation of museums and cultural centres. In addition, the fresh material offered by the Web itself allows analyzing the virtual activity of the museums themselves and the new platforms (online labs, databases, websites and blogs) arisen in the past decades. The latter are perfect examples of the new paths opened by the digital contemporary technology offering collective sites of communication in real time.


The preservation of digital and intangible heritage is understood as a form of development of a collective memory that can help in the understanding of our age in the future. In this way, the goals and the responsibilities are common; citizens are required to keep an active culture that is no more a culture of the accumulation and concentration by a minority. In present context, there is a new possibility, maybe for the first time in history, of achieving a new narrative really democratized and decentralized through the new ways of interacting and sharing information offers by digital media.

Social implications

The urgency of getting an open and free access to information and technology is part of the idiosyncratic of digital art. There is a real aim of generating alternative spaces of knowledge serving public interest, being apart from the economic and political interests of large corporations. In this respect, the role of the museum will be controversial. First of all, as an institution originally created to impose power and moral authority by the governments.


Museums remains as the main artistic institution nowadays. However, they are in a difficult position as a traditional space for preserving and exhibiting art. That is why, they are adapting themselves to the new digital context helped by offering practical databases and updated information on their collections via websites and social networks.



Rivero Moreno, L.D. (2019), "Museums and digital era: preserving art through databases", Collection and Curation, Vol. 38 No. 4, pp. 89-93.



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