Bespoke Open, Collaborative and Creative Approaches to Heritage Documentation (BOCCAHD)

Documentation systems are a bedrock for cultural heritage collections. They enable institutions to be accountable for their collections, for cultural heritage workers to find, describe and share the items in their collections, and for people to access the collections, research them and be inspired by them.

Recent work critically explores the ways in which those systems came to be, the limitations of their modes of description, and how those systems can be made more transparent, open, bespoke and participatory (see Hacıgüzeller et al. 2021). We look to bring together critical research and practices to explore methods of radically rewriting, opening up, and democratising heritage documentation, and ways of measuring how experimental documentation affects engagement, impact, and re-use across diverse audiences. We are inspired by the concept of Visible Storage, through which museum storage facilities are designed as behind-the-scenes exhibition spaces. We extend this concept to online spaces, and invite diverse participants to experiment with dynamic and participatory documentation practices designed to facilitate impactful digital and analog engagement with changing heritage collections.

The BOCCAHD project will develop a network of researchers and practitioners who want to explore critical ways of questioning, opening up, remixing and creatively engaging with heritage documentation. The grant will be used to facilitate a series of public-facing and internal workshops to share insights from project members’ and partners’ research and practice, culminating in the design and testing of a prototype Creative Cataloguing Application as a focal point for future collaborations across the project team and partner organisations.

Project Aims

  • Develop a network of researcher-practitioners working on creative approaches to heritage documentation
  • Experiment with capturing and presenting creative responses to collections in heritage documentation systems
  • Evaluate how online collection systems can benefit individuals and communities
  • Share and consolidate partnerships with Yorkshire-based heritage organisations
  • Develop ECR’s project management skills and provide a springboard for diversifying future grant capture

Project Objectives

  • Deliver a series of internal project workshops
  • Host 3 participatory workshops (Heritage Jam and 2x User Testing and Evaluation Workshops) to explore approaches to heritage documentation with public institutions, students, and community members.
  • Develop a collaborative blog to share our initial findings and provide a springboard for peer- reviewed co-writing.
  • Develop an open-source creative cataloguing application prototype for use by small heritage organisations interested in opening up their documentation systems for digital public participation and engagement.




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