With generous support from the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN), Ithaka S+R is examining the role played by the institutional host in supporting digital resources at museums.

Over the past decade, investment from private and public funders has helped to create a rich landscape of digital resources in the cultural heritage sector. These projects, whether focused on digitization, born-digital content, or other tools, can be challenging to coordinate and costly to maintain.

As cultural heritage institutions seek to expand their reach beyond their physical spaces, their digital activities have become a core part of their strategy. This study is a look at how museums, generally, and the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia, specifically, think about and plan for sustaining and enhancing the value of their digital collections and other content projects.

Research began in October 2012 and will include a phase of sector-wide research to understand the landscape of practices and expectations of project leaders, museum administration, and funders. This will be followed by an in-depth examination of the Museum of Anthropology, a university-based research and teaching museum with an online collection of more than 38,000 objects and more than a dozen other online and in-gallery digital exhibitions and projects.

The aim of this project is to uncover the systems in place to support the creation and impact of digital content at museums in Canada. We expect that the findings will prove valuable for other cultural organizations seeking to develop strategies for supporting the rich digital content they have created.