ACMI Museum Soft Power Map – Harnessing AURIN Data for HASS Research

AURIN promotes and supports spatial research across disciplines, including incorporating a spatial dimension to research that can traditionally be non-spatial. Making data, spatial methodology and tools accessible to empower researchers. One research area that we can enrich with spatial elements is the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS); as illustrated by the work described here.
Dr Natalia Grincheva, a Research Fellow of the Research Unit in Public Cultures at the University of Melbourne, collaborated with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) to develop the Museum Soft Power Map, an online tool that maps and assesses the ACMI’s “attraction power” in Melbourne and abroad.
Hosted and supported by the Digital Studio at the University of Melbourne which leverages digital technologies to transform the ways in which research is conducted in HASS, they brought together academics and graduate students from the School of Culture and Communication to collaborate with cultural professionals from ACMI. AURIN provided data, support and advice on the nuances of spatial aspects of the research. The data standards we apply across all data accessed through AURIN allowed Dr Grincheva to accurately map where ACMI visitors live and link this information to other demographic data. This gives a richer understanding of not only where visitors are from but also who they are.

The map measures ACMI’s “attraction power” in Melbourne and abroad. The dynamic web application offers multilayered exploration of ACMI cultural resources and social outputs to reveal social-demographic, cultural and economic factors that affect its capacity to attract larger visitation and revenue. Dr Grincheva is now conducting additional research that will advance the mapping solution with a new layer that can not only measure, but predict soft power of ACMI in different locations around the world.
Following the international launch, the Museum Soft Power map received considerable attention from museum professionals for its functionality, design and applicability to museum needs. The Melbourne Engagement Power Layer (powered by AURIN) and its application to track, assess and explore local museum audiences also garnered much interest. Audiences expressed their enthusiasm for the important new knowledge this project will generate and the impact potential on enhancing the work of museums.
Seb Chan, ACMI Chief Experience Officer; Chris Harris, ACMI Head of Exhibition and Touring; and Helen Simonson, Head of ACMI X and Special Projects, participated in multiple public events, such as global webinar and app launches in New York and Melbourne. They indicated that the digital mapping system is a useful strategic development tool for ACMI that will likely have strong cultural and economic impact on their work, on the local and international levels. Specifically, the app will be used to develop programming and audiences in Melbourne as well as to plan international touring exhibitions and identify targeted audiences across different countries. 
The Museum Soft Power Map received the 2018 Melbourne Engagement Grant, 2018 Digital Humanities Australasia Award, 2018 Award of the International Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations and the 2017 Museum Computer Network Scholar Award, granted for developing innovative solutions to enhance museum transparency and strengthen proactive management in global PR. 
Currently the project is among finalists to compete for the 2019 GLAMi Awards nominated in the category ‘Behind the Scenes’ by the MuseWeb conference, the global outlet for sharing innovative digital developments in the professional world of museums. Furthermore, most recently the project was invited to the 2019 Grands Prix (formerly known as the International Design and Communication Awards), the international prestigious prize for creative excellence in communication, digital, engagement and development strategy across the global arts and cultural sector. 
The Museum Soft Power Map also received a wide media attention on the national and international levels. It was covered by Pursuit, the American Alliance of Museums’ Future of Museums Blog, and the Research Center of Public Diplomacy, located at the University of Southern California. The project was presented on Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon program with Kathryn Ryan via a 15-min live interview in January 2019 
This research not only makes a significant contribution to the study of contemporary museums, but also draws attention to a more nuanced contextual exploration of their impacts. It can then supply data for a more complex city-wide cultural research and planning. AURIN is proud to support such data and promote the outcomes and impacts for Australia
Further information on AURIN’s support of this project can be found on our Research Impacts page alongside a diverse range of other projects conducted by researchers around the country, generating real word impacts, supported by the AURIN Workbench and Network.

Coming soon: Smart Heritage Datathon – GLAM in Smart City

How ‘smart’ is our cultural heritage in the age of big data? How well is the smart city of Melbourne equipped to employ GLAM data for urban design, evaluation and development? This Datathon will intend to answer these questions by bringing together the GLAM sector experts, local governments, academics and data specialists to cross-pollinate data intelligence. This Datathon will address an urgent need to share and advance knowledge on digital data curation mechanisms and means that can be used to innovate existing methodologies of the GLAM development and urban planning and evaluations.
  • expose available open data-sets, either generated by museums or collected by local governments for public reuse and sharing;
  • educate participants on big data analysis and curation to advance their data skills for strategic urban/institutional development;
  • share best practices and case studies;
  • hack experimental data-sets to generate knowledge on new ways, tools and approaches of big data use and analysis;
  • create a community platform for sharing data intelligence
Dates TBC – watch this space!