University of Leicester
2019VargasLPhD.pdf (17.67 MB)

Understanding museum digital maturity through data collection and use

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posted on 2019-11-25, 11:09 authored by Lauren Vargas
This thesis considers the question of whether digital maturity can be measured through a museum’s data collection and use. Given that there are multiple components of such maturity, this research proposes if and how data might be used as a proxy to gauge a museum’s overall digital maturity. Technology is a major influence of transformation in current museums and one of the sparks fuelling this transformation, is how museums collect and use data. Responding directly to this technological and business challenge, this thesis examines the experiential context for digital maturity by analysing how data is currently being used in the museum sector. This research draws upon the human context for digital maturity over the past five decades of technological innovation in museology through the lens of a change agent’s ethic and way of thinking to spark technological evolutions and revolutions. This approach is informed by the organisational context for digital maturity by researching how the digital landscape may be reimagined around existing physical community and urban planning principles. An outcome of the literature review and fieldwork is to enable cultural institutions a model to assess a panoramic view of their current digital business processes, strengths and weaknesses, define and overcome the paradox of the current digital maturity state, and establish pathways of actionable steps to achieve the desired level of digital maturity. Just as there are numerous ways to navigate through a physical city—taking short cuts or the scenic route—there are myriad paths to manoeuvre through the digital ecosystem. And, every move made, every twist and turn, has consequences. Evidence presented here draws upon the insights of museums’ use of technology over the past five decades and to test business tools that may be applied within museums to gauge their overall digital maturity through the understanding of how the museum collects and uses data. The thesis concludes that this mechanic may be used elsewhere in the sector and the framework scaled to include other components of digital maturity to conclude exact maturity levels across many capabilities. More broadly, what emerges is an insight in which applying data-informed decisions, museums of the present and future may be able to bridge the physical and digital institutions and attract a plethora of new visitors with new visitor experiences.



Ross Parry

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Museum Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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