How a museum knows? Structures, work roles, and infrastructures of information work

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Abstract

Even if knowledge is a commodity that a museum offers as Hooper-Greenhill (1992) has argued, the mechanisms of how a museum comes to know what it mediates are not well understood. Using a case study approach, the aim of this study is to investigate what types of sources and channels, with a special emphasis on social processes and structures of information, support collaborative information work, and the emergence of knowledge in a museum environment. The empirical study was conducted using a combination of ethnographic observation of and interviews with staff members at a medium-sized museum in a Nordic country. The study shows that much of the daily information work is routinized and infrastructuralized in social information exchange and reproduction of documented information and museum collections.

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