Museums Starting To Embrace Wikipedia: Musem of Modern Art Now Hosts Monthly Edit-A-Thons


The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is opening itself up to becoming a part of the Web and not merely being on the Web.

While there are a number of art museums that are becoming more and more keen on creating and sharing data in digital format, it is MoMA which had enjoyed prominence because of its success in embedding Wikipedia links on its artist pages.

Earlier this month, Wikimedia volunteers from New York City held a training event that was participated in by a large group of people. Using the words "stay cool when the editing gets hot" as a catchphrase, the training focused on crowdsourcing Web content and the culture and mechanics that it entails.

The event, which lasted for seven hours, had been devoted to updating entries in Wikipedia with the topics on Latin American art and culture. Contributors to the event included scholars, educators, marketers, bankers and engineers. There's even lunch and free child care that the organizers had added.

"We're recognizing other people can contribute knowledge," said Fiona Romero, director of digital content and strategy of the museum.

The initiatives set by MoMA are just some of the various ways that museums are looking into in order to build connection with the millions of users of Wikipedia. A number of these users have started to donate images of collections to the online encyclopedia site.

Early in 2014, art historian and curator Alexandra Thom spent 10 full months filling in the gaps on Wikipedia's art and culture content by using the collection found in Brooklyn Museum and the expertise of the museum's curatorial departments.

Thom focused on African art, which she believed had suffered negative portrayals in Wikipedia. As a result, she was able to write 24 new articles and edit 18 of the existing ones, all about African art.

"I love Wikipedia for providing a seemingly endless web of linked information that I can follow from one article to the next," said Thom. "In terms of the bigger picture and this project in particular, Wikipedia fascinates me for its ability to attract an enormous amount of attention from readers around the world."

Another museum worth mentioning is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where librarians are said to have been collaborating with Wikipedia in a move to add bibliographic citations to notable articles. According to William Blueher, a metadata and collections librarian, the move has definitely caused the museum's Web traffic to increase at an exponential rate. Last year alone, the site's digital collections earned over 1 million page views, much higher than the 100,000 page views it earned in 2012.

"By making museum content more accessible through Wikipedia, museums have the opportunity to reassert themselves within this worldview," said JiaJia Fei, associate director at the digital marketing department of Guggenheim.

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