Purpose – We investigate how, in forming their policy towards open data, art museums interact with the open data ecosystems they are part of, comprising internal and external components such as cultural policy, legal frameworks, user groups, and economic conditions and incentives. Design/methodology/approach – We structure our research as a multiple case study based on three open data ecosystems, each defined by a mid-sized European art museum at its centre. Qualitative analysis of the case studies proceeds from interviews with museum management staff and policy-related agencies in three European countries, in addition to document analysis.
Findings – Our results suggest that museums are sensitive towards their environments and respond to their ecosystem based on what is communicated within their networks. However, museums are not effective in communicating with their users, limiting the informational interdependence necessary for well-functioning open data ecosystems. EU policy appears to be a driving force along with national financial incentives, though institutional conditions are limiting progress. Advancing the field relies instead on an epistemological shift to understand the museum as part of a larger information network.
Originality/value – As the first comparative case study of art museum open data ecosystems that we are aware of, the study provides a qualitative analysis of the complex dynamics impacting open data policy within the mid-sized art museum. We identify specific dynamics that are thus far restricting further development of the open data ecosystem of the mid-sized European art museum.