Research Uncovered—CabiNET: Integrating Text and Object in Oxford Teaching

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Digital technologies are revolutionising the accessibility of museum collections, increasingly perceived of as intellectual assets in the university environment. The CabiNET project, funded by the University’s IT Innovation Challenges fund, brings specialists from the Oxford Internet Institute, IT Services, and the Faculty of History together with the Oxford University Museums to create an online platform to integrate museum objects used in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching into the traditional text-based curriculum. Cross-subject teaching with the collections is proving to be a powerful enhancement of the student learning experience, and this project addresses the demand for improved digital access to museum materials as an essential part of that experience.

The CabiNET project is using new high-resolution 2D and 3D imagery to assist students in further study and revision of objects they first encounter as part of their course work. The balanced presentation of both texts and objects for courses uploaded onto the interactive platform provides a rich array of teaching tools and materials for research and study.

Dr Giovanna Vitelli is Director of the University Engagement Programme at the Ashmolean Museum, which is tasked with expanding the use of the museum’s collections across the full range of Oxford’s faculties. The UEP, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is an acknowledged leader in the field of cross-disciplinary teaching and a catalyst for new academic approaches to integrating material culture in the curriculum. Giovanna, together with her UEP colleagues, was awarded a 2015 Oxford Teaching Excellence Award.

Giovanna is an archaeologist and anthropologist whose research and teaching interests centre on the early modern period in Europe and the colonial world, with emphasis on 17th and 18th century social history and the relationship between people and things.  She has taught extensively across Oxford’s departments using the collections of the Ashmolean; she is also co-teaching with curatorial colleagues in the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of the History of Science, and co-convening courses with faculty in other departments.

Access: If you have a University or Bodleian Reader’s card, you can get to the Centre for Digital Scholarship through the Mackerras Reading Room on the first floor of the Weston Library, around the gallery. If you do not have access to the Weston Library you are more than welcome to attend the talk: please contact Pip Willcox before the event (

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