Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Computing and Information Technology


Museums are no longer seen as warehouses of objects, but as institutions of knowledge. A growing number of museums are putting their collections online in an e↵ort to make them accessible, navigable and meaningful to their audiences. The digital medium o↵ers the ability to highlight the narratives and relationships shared by their objects through the creation of exploratory interfaces and data visualisations.

In recognition of this – and inspired by perspectives on information seeking that incorporate elements of serendipity, play and aesthetics – this research explores the concept of the pathway as a design theory for visualising, navigating and exploring digitized museum collections. The thesis presents a series of concept designs where users follow, branch and navigate through a narrative of interconnected pathways and discover the rich connections that objects have with one another. These connections are formed through the use of Formal Concept Analysis: a technique that harvests the embodied knowledge within these collections.

Based on a series of case studies and user experience evaluations, the research highlights the importance of showing the context and relationships that surround the objects, the ability to meaningfully engage with high quality content, issues that concern knowledge acquisition and representation, and the role of aesthetics and visual momentum in the design of experiences that promote exploration within digitized museum collections. The design principle of pathways as a means to structure content and a↵ord creative exploration is realised through the creation, shaping, evaluation and critique of three concept designs.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.