Submissions/We Have Wonders: Dealing with Diverse Resources from the Chemical Heritage Foundation

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2014 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this August.

Submission no. 2053
Title of the submission

We Have Wonders: Dealing with Diverse Resources from the Chemical Heritage Foundation

Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)


Author of the submission

Mary Mark Ockerbloom

E-mail address


Mary Mark Ockerbloom

Country of origin

Canada (resident in United States of America)

Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)

Chemical Heritage Foundation

Personal homepage or blog

A Celebration of Women Writers

Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

I have spent much of the last year as Wikipedian in Residence at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, PA, USA. The Chemical Heritage Foundation is an archive, museum and library specializing in the history of science, particularly chemistry. Its collections vary widely, including alchemical rare books and paintings, 20th century photographs and papers, children's chemistry sets, and scientific instruments. In addition, the institution is home to an active community of scholars, and engages with scientists through the gathering of oral histories, public events, and granting of awards. My activities at CHF include 1) image release on Wikimedia Commons 2) editing of mission-related content on English Wikipedia 3) Wikipedia-related outreach with people and organizations in the Philadelphia area.

One of the challenges of being a Wikipedian in Residence at CHF is dealing with the wide variety of materials that the institution holds. Another is finding ways to ensure that relevant metadata, information that has been painstakingly gathered by curators and others, is maintained and effectively presented when images are released on Wikimedia Commons. Images become largely meaningless if their context is not established. This is a concern not just for the Chemical Heritage Foundation, but for many other GLAM institutions as well.

Paintings and illustrations from rare books are public domain artworks. Their creators are often identifiable, and their copyright dates and their creation dates are congruent. Archival photographs are well described by Wikipedia's photograph template. Like artworks, they may have identifiable creators, and their copyright is based upon their date of creation.

Artifacts and instruments are more complicated. An artifact and its image have their own separate histories, and neither the artwork nor the photograph template is ideally suited to their description. Date information that establishes meaningful context is based on the artifact, while date information that determines copyright is based on the image, and no longer the same. The creator of the image and the creator of the artifact, if creation is even a relevant term, are different. Who "creates" a dinosaur bone or a circuit board? Could an artifact template be introduced to more effectively describe GLAM artifacts and objects?

It's also interesting to think about the ways in which artifacts can be displayed online. Photographs of objects reduce the 3-dimensional to the 2-dimensional. Videos offer more options: the ability to rotate a three-dimensional object and see it from all sides, to show a machine like the Wimshurst machine in operation, or to view a dynamic art installation over time. As the ability to create generative 3-dimensional models increases, it also becomes possible to store descriptions of objects, and even to recreate them. All of these are potentially related "other versions" of GLAM artifacts, that may become more commonly seen.

  • GLAM Outreach
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?

Yes (assuming funding is available)

Slides or further information (optional)

To be added

Special requests

Interested attendees

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