We are very pleased to announce that the Archives Hub has joined forces with The University of Brighton Design Archives for an exciting new project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, ‘Exploring British Design’. The project is funded as one of ten new ‘Amplification Awards’ from the AHRC.
We will be working with Catherine Moriarty, Curatorial Director of the University of Brighton Design Archives and Professor of Art and Design History in the Faculty of Arts. Catherine, myself and others on the project aim to provide you with updates and insights through the Archives Hub blog over the next 12 months.
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The project will explore Britain’s design history by connecting design-related content in different archives. A collaboration between researchers, information professionals, technologists, curators and historians, the aim is to give researchers the freedom to explore the depth of detail held in British design archives.
We will be working with researchers to understand more about their use of archives and methods of archival research within design history. We aim to answer a number of research questions:
1. How can we link digital content and subject expertise in order to make archival content more discoverable for researchers? How can we increase the discoverability of design archives in and beyond the HE sector?
2. How can connected archival data better recover ‘lost moments of design action’? (Dilnot 2013: 337)
3. How might a website co-designed by researchers, rather than a top-down collection-defined approach to archive content, enhance engagement with and understanding of British design? How can we encourage researchers, archive and museum professionals, and the public, to apprehend an integrated and extended rather than collection-specific sense of Britain’s design history?
4. How can the principles of archive arrangement/description be made meaningful and useful to researchers? Are these principles sometimes a hindrance to public understanding, or can they be utilised to better effect to aid interpretation?
We want to use this opportunity to explore ways of presenting archival data beyond the traditional collection level description. We will be working with three main sources of data:
1) We will be utilising and enhancing the data within the Archives Hub, starting with the descriptions of the collections held at Brighton Design Archives, but also utilising other descriptions of archives held all across the UK, covering manufacturing history, art schools, personal perspectives and professional contexts, so that we make the most of the diversity of the archives described on the Hub.
2) We will be creating archival authority records, using the EAC-CPF XML format for ISAAR(CPF) records
3) We will be working with the Design Museum and looking to integrate their object-based data into our data set
We will also be working to integrate other sources of data into our authority records.
We aim to provide a front-end that demonstrates what is possible with rich and connected data sources. Our intention is to be led by researchers in this endeavour. It will give us the opportunity to explore researcher needs and requirements, and to understand more about the importance of familiarity with interfaces compared to the possibilities for ‘disruptive’ approaches that propose more radical solutions to interrogating the data.
We are grateful to the AHRC for giving us the opportunity to explore these important questions and take digital research to another level.