Miriam Posner: Museums in the Digital Age

UCLA assistant professor of information studies and digital humanities prepares students for new digital frontiers in the museum fields, explores inclusive access to museums for all.

Miriam Posner, an assistant professor in the UCLA Department of Information Studies and the UCLA Program in Digital Humanities, shared her perspectives on the impact of the digital age on museums in the most recent issue of UCLA Ed & IS Magazine. 

Posner, who for the last two years has taught a course on digital environments and museums, says that students are interested in gaining skills that would prepare them for careers in the museum fields. 

“Museum professions are changing rapidly right now with bulk digitization projects and a lot of data management questions,” says Posner. “There are some museums that choose to be exclusively online. So, the class is an introduction to digital practices in museums from a lot of different angles. They want to know how you can incorporate digital technologies into exhibits and how you manage data behind the scenes. Then there are questions on how you build online collections or exhibits.”

Posner, who has served as associate curator at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York, curating, maintaining and developing its collection of 125,000 artifacts, says that issues of access are very much part of the conversation today in terms of providing the entire public with exposure to museums and opportunities to participate in ways that were not previously available. 

“I think that there are still a lot of unanswered questions about what it means to be a museum right now and I think one of them is how to meaningfully reach underserved communities in a digital way. 

In 2017, Posner joined the faculty of UCLA’s Department of Information Studies as an assistant professor of information studies and digital humanities. For the last two years, she has taught a course on the growing field of digital environments and museums. Her interest in science and technology has led to her forthcoming book, “Depth Perception: Narrative and the Body in American Medical Filmmaking.” Her most recent publications include the articles “Data as Media” (with Lauren Klein) in Feminist Media Histories, “Tracing a Community of Practice” (with Marika Cifor, who earned her doctorate in information studies from UCLA in 2017) in The Moving Image and the chapter, “What’s Next: The Radical, Unrealized Potential of Digital Humanities” in “Debates in the Digital Humanities” (University of Minnesota, 2016).

Posner was a Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the Digital Scholarship Commons at the Emory University Library, researching, designing and writing a grant to fund a new library-based digital humanities center. She has also served as an instructional innovation intern at the Yale University Instructional Technology Group.

To read the complete Q&A with Professor Posner, visit this link to the latest issue of UCLA Ed & IS Magazine.

Photo by Amelia Burns