AHRC Towards a National Collection programme
Exploring the challenges facing meaningful access to digital collections across the sector.
About the Project
This AHRC-funded project, part of the Towards a National Collection programme, addresses the challenges of preserving, collecting and meaningfully sharing born-digital and hybrid digital objects in museum collections. It focuses on collection management, digital preservation, and public access.
How can we collect the software design of an iPhone? How do we represent the work of digital designers in museums? How can we capture our digital lives for current and future audiences? Contemporary design is digital design. From websites, through apps and social media, creative practitioners increasingly work with digital techniques: this prevalence of digital culture poses significant challenges to collecting institutions. This project considers born-digital material as a fundamental part of contemporary collections and explores the transformations of practices to accommodate this shift.
A partnership between the V&A, the BFI, and Birkbeck University, the research focuses on different digital object types - from digital art, film, and architecture, to videogames, software and complex digital design. The project argues for centrality of born-digital cultures in contemporary cultural heritage. It aims to identify and respond to the need for the development of digital skills and literacy across the cultural sector. The project is designed to inspire confidence in collecting institutions to build capacity and encourage a more effective development of born-digital collections.
This project will involve a combination of desk-based research, collection-based case studies, a series of workshops, and the development of two technical pilots. Committed to benefitting the cultural sector, it will produce a set of toolkits, best-practices and recommendations for policymakers and heritage professionals. The project outcomes will collectively contribute to enhanced understandings of born-digital objects, practices, and challenges associated with both, to inform future research agenda in the field.
Curator of Digital Design, V&A
Director of Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology, Birkbeck, University of London
Head of Data and Digital, BFI
Technical Lead, V&A