Collections open! Amsterdam Museum and open data

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  • Collections open! Amsterdam Museum

    and Open Data

    Dr. Judith van Gent

    Alles offen, alles frei. Open Data in Kultureinrichtungen

    June 13th 2014, Wien Museum

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesThree years ago the Amsterdam Museum published its collection data as Open Data. As the person responsible for data management in the museum, I am project manager of our Open Data project. I propose here to explain our motives, what we have managed to do so far, and the results.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesThe Amsterdam Museum (formerly Amsterdam Historical Museum) is in the centre of town, in the old civic orphanage. It tells the citys story: its history, its present state and its future. We try to involve the people of Amsterdam as much as we can. The museum has around 200.000 visitors a year. 70% tourists from other countries.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesOutside the museum, we do that through websites in which people tell their stories about their neighbourhood, and what goes on locally. The Memory of the East website was in 1997 the first Dutch story telling website.Visitors to our community websites increase every year towards 500.000 visits last year.

  • 90.000 objects

    PresentatorPresentatienotitiesThe museum maintains the rich historic collection of the city of Amsterdam, currently about ninety thousand objects. These include many major exhibits, such as paintings, sculpture, silver, as well as numerous drawings, prints and books. Only ten percent of the collection is on display in the museum or at other locations in Amsterdam.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesIn the fifties of the 20th century, a central registration of the collection was started: each object was given an inventory number and was recorded in a stamboek and each object had different cards, such as an inventory card, a photo card, a literature card, with copied clippings sticked on the card.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesIn the late nineties, we digitised our inventory data and photo cards, so that now all our objects were registered in the collection database Adlib, with at least basic information and generally with a photo.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesAs a result we can manage the collection through the database system. Location management, loan traffic, transport administration. All this can be done with one source: the Adlib collection database.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesFour years ago we opened this database on Internet, to create a digital depot. Although the metadata is sometimes incomplete, we nevertheless chose to put the whole collection online. We were one of the first Dutch museums to do so.

    The online collection is available in two versions: a visual browser version for the general public and a research version for researchers and other specialists.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesBesides a Google-like search engine, the browser version contains ten pre-selections such as Masterpieces, Amsterdam citizens etc. The results are visually displayed in a gallery. This is, for example, the first page of the objects included in the selection of masterpieces. You immediately see the variety of our collection with a 20th-century photo print by Micha Klein next to the 17th century statue of Goliath.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesThe research version is more comprehensive: it has all information about the object currently available, like physical data, signatures, data of provenance and so on. All the available texts, like display texts and catalogue entries are displayed. Plus of course all literature references.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesThe photos are of screen quality and can be downloaded and used for private and even commercial purposes. About seventy thousand objects date from before 1870, which allows us to publish the images under the Public Domain Mark.

  • V

    PresentatorPresentatienotitiesAs we explain on the website, while the information is constantly being updated, sometimes the information on the site is old. So we encourage researchers and others to help us by leaving comments and suggestions about objects. This is in line with our information policy: we want to encourage public participation and collaboration.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesIn March 2011, we took the next logical step: we published our data as Open Data. Anyone can use the information, and re-use it and distribute it.The metadata is made available in Dublin Core standard format, ofcourse excluding information about current location, value and insurance. We collate the metadata in standard xml format. Access to the information is via an API, which enables a dynamic link to the database. Data can also be harvested using the popular OAI-PMH, a xml standard that uses Dublin Core. We publish the metadata under CC0

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesLinked Open Data goes even further than Open Data. Linked Open Data involves interoperability between different data sets: linking data sets enables search engines to be designed that can find information in different databases without requiring too many extra steps. Linked Open Data is also known as the Semantic Web or Web 3.0.In 2010, we made our data available to Amsterdams Free University for research purposes. As part of the Europeana and the Semantic Web research programme, researcher Victor de Boer converted our data to Linked Open Data in the Europeana Data Model (EDM).

    In this Linked Open Data cloud, each sphere represents a data set and the connections between them show which data sets are linked. The Amsterdam Museum data set is here at the bottom of the cloud and is (automatically) linked to four data sets: Dpdia: the Linked Open Data version of Wikipedia, Geonames: a worldwide geographical database with only 143 links. The number is small because many of our objects are registered by Amsterdam street, and house number. Geographical locations at that level of precision are not included in Geonames. We are also linked to the Getty Institutes Union List of Artist Names (ULAN), with a thousand names, and to the Dutch Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) with two thousand five hundred concepts.

  • Collection should be accessible to the owners: the people of Amsterdam

    PresentatorPresentatienotitiesWhy did we do this?Our main reason was to make our public collections accessible to their owners: the people of Amsterdam. Not least the objects which are not displayed in the museum: ninety percent of our objects are stored in depots.

  • Collection accessible for research

    PresentatorPresentatienotitiesThe collection contains sub-collections, which are historical as well as art historical of international importance. We believe that everybody should be able to access these objects and use the information.

  • Stimulate sharing knowledge and innovation

    PresentatorPresentatienotitiesPart of our mission is to and innovate and stimulate to share knowledge. We have several innovative projects in which we use our data, like the Free Universitys Semantic Web project. Others make data available through smart phone apps or other new ways of disseminating information. This is one way in which we encourage innovation and leave it to users to find ways to exploit our data as best as possible.

  • Enrichment by data in interesting


    PresentatorPresentatienotitiesWe propose to augment our data by placing it in interesting contexts, such as Wikipedia and Europeana. We believe that linking data with other institutions will show that data in a wider context, making it more accessible and more interesting for the public.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesIn the coming two years we will be working with nine other Dutch museums in the Modemuze project to create a joint website to present our fashion and costume collections.

  • Stimulate re-use and make accessing data easy

    PresentatorPresentatienotitiesWe want to stimulate re-use, and make accessing data easier.We have developed an iPhone app jointly with the supplier of our collection database making our whole collection searchable on a mobile phone.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesThe Dutch government has made open data a matter of policy: data which has been acquired with public funding should be accessible to the public, and available for use. One of the main aims is to make government more transparent. The website collects data sets and offers them for re-use. This can range from public information in Amersfoort, urinals in Amsterdam, information about schools, to speeches by European Union commissioners.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesIn recent years in Holland, several competitions have been held to encourage developers to create useful, attractive, fun applications to disseminate government information. Developers and data suppliers have come together at hackathons organised by Hack the Government to think up new applications.In April 2011, the first Apps for Amsterdam competition was held. Amsterdam Museum was the first cultural institution to make its collection data available as Open Data for these products.

  • PresentatorPresentatienotitiesMany other cultural institutions followed our example, including National Archive, our national film museum Eye and the Rijksmuseum. Later in 2011, the Open Culture Data platform was set up: a network of cultural professionals, developers, designers and so forth, encouraging the opening up of cultural data, sharing knowledge and developing new applications for data. The site has a blog; there are workshops and hackathons; masterclasses are organised for and by professionals in the heritage sector.