SFMOMA’s Mediawiki: Prototyping a new object record

Martina Haidvogl and Rachael Faust
The Electronic Media Review, Volume Five: 2017-2018


Media artworks challenge traditional documentation systems and, in our experience, reveal the limitations and restrictions of the proprietary museum software currently available. With new ways of working being formed in today’s museums, innovative systems are required that support collaborative workflows and encourage multi-user participation, all while serving the different needs necessary to keep the art at the center. Building on a rich history in this area of research, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has launched an internal web platform that utilizes the open-source MediaWiki software to capture, document, and distribute both concrete and contextual information around artworks. Widely supporting multi-media assets, SFMOMA’s Mediawiki can host videos, audio- and image files, a variety of document formats, as well as link to external sources. Taking Julia Scher’s iterative media installation Predictive Engineering as a case study, members of the Mellon-funded research project ‘the Artist Initiative’ have explored the different ways a comprehensive object record can look like and be created. This extensive research culminated in a two-day colloquium at which scholars from around the globe were invited to critique both the contents of the record as well as the technical platform. SFMOMA’s Mediawiki was recently opened to all members of SFMOMA’s Team Media consortium, who are now testing its usability. Their feedback and participation will inform further steps and determine if the MediaWiki platform can become a complimentary tool to our existing databases and fulfill the multi-facetted needs of documenting artworks even beyond this most challenging body of works.

Martina Haidvogl
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Associate Media Conservator
San Francisco, CA

Rachael Faust
Manager of the Artist Initiative
San Francisco