Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA Museum Professions


Communication and the Arts


Martha Easton


Crowdsourcing, Museum, Participation, User Experience, Crowd Theory, Citizen Science, Motivational Theory, Motivation


Today, crowdsourcing has become an integrative approach to completing projects using the help of the general populous. These projects aid museum staff by processing large quantities of data, which otherwise could not be completed due to time and/or staff restraints. Through crowdsourcing, cultural institutions have the ability to outsource these tasks to volunteers, who can complete them at much faster rates. Although staff members are needed to validate and supervise these projects, crowdsourcing remains a useful tool in increasing public interactions and project efficiency.

This thesis presents a thorough outline of what crowdsourcing is, how it is being utilized, and how volunteers can be motivated to participate. Case studies are presented, providing a comprehensive look into each of the six types of crowdsourcing. These studies include the Brooklyn Museum, September 11th Memorial and Museum, South Eastern Regional Network of Expertise and Collections, British Library, Peoria Historical Society, and Smithsonian Institution. Utilizing these critical examples, this paper presents several motivational theories of volunteer participation and outlines how this knowledge can be implemented to create a more successfully crowdsourced project.