Exhibition Content


 Critically Endangered small

Born-digital or hybrid-digital content that was created and/or commissioned for exhibitions and has not been accessioned into the collection. This species is considered as an object or a 'work' in its own right, and not interpretive materials.

Digital Species: Museum and Gallery, Media Art

New Rescoped Entry

Consensus Decision

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within one year.

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on many people and sectors.

Effort to Preserve | Inevitability

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.


Digital experiences, immersive works, digital artworks, hybrid-digital artworks, media art, and other born-digital or hybrid-digital objects or materials which can take many forms.

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Lack of technical documentation; complex interdependencies related to specific hardware, software and/or operating systems; significant volumes or diversity of data; dependence on proprietary products or formats; lack of preservation capacity in museum or gallery; technology is seen as inherently fragile and therefore risky to collect and preserve; conflation of access with preservation; lifespan of hardware technologies used in legacy works with few/no replacements and/or alternatives.

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Strong technical documentation; preservation capability; preservation pathway; clarity of intellectual property rights that enable preservation; availability of replacement or alternative hardware technologies.

2023 Review

This entry was added in 2019 under ‘Digital Materials in Museums and Galleries’ and previously rescoped in 2021 to ‘Supporting Digital Materials for Museums and Galleries’.

The 2023 Bit List Council superseded the entry, splitting it into six discrete entries as the scope of the single entry was too broad to provide the guidance needed. The recommendation to break this entry down was also made by the 2021 Jury, as the types of digital collections content in museums can be vast and offer particular risks in museum and gallery contexts. This entry draws attention to risks preserving born-digital or hybrid-digital materials, which can take many forms and may be complex digital objects. These works may be commissioned from an external third-party company, or created by staff internal to an organization, often with a considerable amount of financial investment involved. What is particularly critical is that these materials have not been accessioned into an organization's collection. These objects may inhabit exhibition spaces for many years, and while they may be a key component of an organization's business, have not been (and may not be) ever accessioned into the collection.

Additional Comments

Case Studies or Examples:

  • The Preserving Immersive Media Knowledge Base is a resource created to help share information between members of the digital preservation community who are caring for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), 360 video, real-time 3D software and other similar materials. This site was born out of Tate's Preserving Immersive Media Project with funding from the Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision. See Preserving Immersive Media Knowledge Base (n.d.). Available at: https://pimkb.gitbook.io/pimkb/ [accessed 24 October 2023]

  • The Collaborative Infrastructure for sustainable access to digital art LIMA project, to prevent the loss of digital artworks and to commonly develop the knowledge to preserve these works in a sustainable way. The project ‘Infrastructure sustainable accessibility digital art’ invests in research, training, knowledge sharing and conservation to prevent the loss of both digital artworks and the knowledge to preserve them. See LIMA (n.d.) ‘Collaborative infrastructure for sustainable access to digital art’. Available at: https://www.li-ma.nl/lima/article/collaborative-infrastructure-sustainable-access-digital-art [accessed 24 October 2023]

  • Richardson, J. (2023) ‘Virtual Reality is a big trend in museums, but what are the best examples of museums using VR?’, Museum Next. Available at: https://www.museumnext.com/article/how-museums-are-using-virtual-reality/ [accessed 24 October 2023].

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