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August 19, 2010

The British Museum’s collaboration with Wikipedia

Posted at 8:38 pm in British Museum

I’m in two minds about the recently announced collaboration between the British Museum & Wikipedia to try & enrich the articles on the Museum’s artefacts i the online encyclopaedia. While improving of articles & providing images to supplement them is to be welcomed, I worry at the same time that the exercise may also end up pushing the British Museum’s own personal worldview as being an indisputable fact. There are many artefacts within the British Museum who’s ownership is disputed, but the institution always tries to gloss over this where possible, or falls back on the widely discredited Universal Museum argument to justify their current position.

Museums working with resources such as Wikipedia is a great idea – but only if they don’t use it to try & scrub out other versions of the stories that they are telling.

New York Times

Venerable British Museum Enlists in the Wikipedia Revolution
Published: June 4, 2010

The British Museum has begun an unusual collaboration with Wikipedia, the online, volunteer-written encyclopedia, to help ensure that the museum’s expertise and notable artifacts are reflected in that digital reference’s pages.

About 40 Wikipedia contributors in the London area spent Friday with a “backstage pass” to the museum, meeting with curators and taking photographs of the collection. And in a curious reversal in status, curators were invited to review Wikipedia’s treatment of the museum’s collection and make a case that important pieces were missing or given short shrift.
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