Layna White

Affiliation: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Sector: Museum, Humanities

Country: United States


As Head of Collections Information and Access at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, I oversee the advancement of the museum’s collections management and digital asset management systems; oversee imaging of artworks in the museum’s collection; management of intellectual property issues; and ensure that the department’s work in these areas supports pluralistic needs related to accessing the collection and exhibitions through programs such as Explore Modern Art, our online collection catalog. Prior to SFMOMA, I was Collections Information Manager at the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum, where I cataloged artworks and integrated collections management needs with on-site and on-line public access. While at UCLA, I joined the multi-year collaboration, Museums and the Online Archive of California, a group of museums and archives which investigated cross-community standards, digitization tools and workflows, and use of digital content by different audiences. At this time, I also joined Cataloging Cultural Objects efforts – resulting in a cross-community data standard for describing, cataloging, and documenting cultural objects and their images – as an advisory committee member. Degrees in art history and library and information science complement my interest in museum practices for description and documentation, as well as meeting known and changing needs for access to and use of digital content – interests which I have, over the years, explored with many colleagues, as well as many students in museum and information studies programs.

Related Projects:
The Summit coincides with our thinking at SFMOMA about how to loosen our digital content and its meaning-making potential from site- and system-specific packaging. Frankly, Linked Open Data has not had much of a profile at SFMOMA. As a content producer, however, our aims embrace LOD principles of sharing and discovery. Our online collection catalog ( embodies many of our ambitions, curiosities, and challenges around producing and distributing digital content. We take an intra-disciplinary, multi-centered approach around data creation, management, and use – in some measure due to the newness and variability of the contemporary works we collect and exhibit. The result is a scattering of information and knowledge amongst people and systems; a small portion of which we distribute on, and other sites to which we contribute selected content. Our ambitions, curiosities, and challenges include: How to let data live and be useful, in and out of the confines of our site and systems? We have explored use of, but have not implemented, RDF as a way to make more explicitly known the connections amongst content within our online collection. How to share more about what we know or think about works, and encourage interchange? We are currently developing the museum’s strategic plan for the next 5 years, and some of the keenest topics involve online information, online experiences, and experimentation.

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