Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA Museum Professions


Communication and the Arts


Juergen Heinrichs, Ph.D.


born-digital, museum, digital media, collections, exhibition, digital art


Over the past few decades, advancements in technology have changed society entirely. Every bit of information about world news, popular culture, and art is just a tap of a touchscreen away. So many aspects of the contemporary world have become digitized so that it was only a matter of time before museums would have to face the issue of born-digital media in their collections. From videos to web-based art, museums have to tackle how to save this new form of cultural heritage. Museums have to do so now before it gets lost forever. The challenge of born-digital objects lies in its nature of impermanence and rapid obsolescence. Is it possible to safeguard collections for the future?

This thesis aims to explore and define born-digital collections in museums from the perspective of a registrar and collections manager. These kinds of objects and art are disreputably unstable and fragile. Throughout, I analyze how museums embrace digitization as well as various collections management practices, surrounding legal issues, and current preservation solutions. My thesis also studies the current challenges with preservation and conservation of digital media. I argue that the most optimized solutions for safeguarding born-digital media are yet to come in efforts to maintain access and preservation. Although the future is unpredictable, it is imperative for museums to research new methods for safeguarding born-digital collections for both public access and documentation of cultural heritage.