Smithsonian Launches Linked Open Data Art Collection, the American Art Collaborative

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aacby Angela Guess

Laura C. Mallonee of Hyperallergic.com reports, “Imagine typing ‘John Singer Sargent’ into a search engine and being able to see every painting the artist ever made that’s owned by an American museum. Today it’s not that simple. Museum collections are like closed-off silos that you have to access individually to get the information you want. The Smithsonian Museum of American Art hopes to change that. It has launched the American Art Collaborative (ACC), a consortium of 14 museums across the country that will connect these silos, creating what you might call the art-world version of the Digital Public Library of America. ‘Art museums share a commitment to helping audiences of all ages experience, learn about, appreciate and enjoy art — thus our missions also include promoting access to our collections and research,’ SAAM director Elizabeth Broun said in a release.”

Mallonee goes on, “The project has been described as a database, but it’s actually much more like a web. Current data from museum collections will be placed in the cloud and tagged with Linked Open Data (LOD) — something that’s already prevalent in the scientific world, but less so in the cultural sphere. For the technologically un-inclined, just know that it’s going to make it a whole lot easier to find connections and relationships between works, artists, materials, and styles across collections. ‘As an example, a museum within the AAC might have the latest research on a specific portrait painting but the detailed biographical information about the sitter may be held an in archival collection,’ Emmanuelle Delmas-Glass, collections data manager at the participating Yale Center for British Art, told Hyperallergic. ‘[LOD] would allow us to make these semantic relationships without needing to set up a central relational database’.”

Read more here.

photo credit: American Art Collaborative

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