Mike Jones
Mike Jones, 2019. Photograph: Nabil Asakly

Mike Jones

Documenting Artefacts and Archives in the Relational Museum’ (PhD in History, 2019).

This cross-disciplinary thesis explores the history of archives and collections
description in contemporary museums, with a particular focus on the mid-1960s to
the present. Looking at changing technologies through case studies including
Museums Victoria and comparative Australian, American and British institutions, it
examines how these developments relate to our evolving understanding of things
and their meaning, context, and use. Three primary research questions are
addressed: how have museums documented and managed knowledge about
artefacts and archives; what impacts have different technologies had on the ways in
which museums document and manage their collections; and, how do these
developments relate to contemporaneous understandings of museums and their
collections? The findings reveal that professionalisation in museums and archives
has contributed to the internal separation of collections from records, impacting on
the discoverability and accessibility of knowledge about artefacts and specimens. As
a result, collections documentation does not adequately reflect contemporary ideas
about museums and their collections. Institutions need to change the way collections
documentation is conceptualised and practiced, moving away from discrete item-
level records and singular perspectives to employ more complex, relational, and
polyvocal approaches.


Supervisors: Professor Kate Darian-Smith, Associate Professor Gavan McCarthy, Dr Richard Gillespie