Museum Technology Histories

Presented at the 50th anniversary
Museum Computer Network conference

I joined an amazing team of museum professionals to researched the development of technology jobs in the museum sector over the last 50 years.

We presented our findings at MCN50 in November 2017.

My job was to tell the visual story about how different technologies changed the nature of museum roles over time. I located three sources of job title data that spanned 50 years:

01 / American Museum of Natural History annual reports

02 / Seattle Art Museum annual reports

03 / Lists of past Museum Computer Network attendees and members

If you ♥ process...

I blogged about the challenge of visualizing these uneven datasets for

Or presentation...

Here's our full conference panel, moderated by Nancy Proctor.


01 /

This graphic charts relative comparisons between technology terms mentioned in AMNH annual reports over the last 50 years.

02 /

We scraped job titles from a variety of MCN archival resources, including the journal Spectra (published from the mid-1970s to 2002), membership directories, conference speaker and attendee lists, and publications.

The data was rich, but it wasn't a complete sample. I couldn't compare findings from one year to the next. But I still wanted to tell a visual story. So I focused on what we DID know - the moments when #musetech terminology broke the surface and appeared in job titles. The MCN blog covers more on this process.

03 /

The Seattle Art Museum's annual reports gave me an almost-complete record of all job titles over a 50-year period.

I tracked the changing words used to categorize different jobs over time.

04 /

This deep dive charts the individual job titles of the Seattle Art Museum's Systems department - eventually the Information Technology Department.

Financial organization and personal computing played a big role in this department's story.



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