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Report on the American Art Collaborative Project

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Report on the American Art Collaborative Project

  1. 1. Report on the American Art Collaborative Project A Partnership to Expose Hidden Meaning and Insights Across American Art Information Resources via Linked Open Data MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  2. 2. http://linkeddata.org/MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  3. 3. Mellon Planning Grant Forming the Collaborative Convene a number of museums with holdings in American Art Look for diversity in the participating institutions Art Critical mass of object records converted to linked data. Including Archives of American Art What other data might be useful? Sargent, John Singer, Self-Portrait, 1907 MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  4. 4. Amon Carter Museum of American Art Jana Hill, Collection Information and Imaging Manager Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution Karen Weiss, Supervisory Information Resources Specialist Autry National Center Rebecca Menendez, Director, Information Services and Technology Colby College Museum of Art Paige Doore, Curricular Registrar Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Shane Richey, Digital Media Manager Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) Shyam Oberoi, Director of Technology and Digital Media and Brian MacElhose, Collections Database Administrator Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) Kyle Jaebker, Director IMA Lab Jeremy Tubbs, Web Application Developer Planning Grant Participants Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art Diana Folsom, Head of Collection Digitization National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution Linda Thrift, Head Collections Information and Research Sue Garton, Data Administrator National Museum of Wildlife Art Adam Harris, Petersen Curator of Art and Research Princeton University Art Museum Cathryn Goodwin, Manager of Collections Information Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) Rachel Allen, Deputy Director Sara Snyder, Deputy Chief, Media & Technology Office The Walters Art Museum Kate Blanch, Systems Manager, Data & Digital Resources MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  5. 5. AAC Working Session, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Feb 2014http://americanartcollaborative.org MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  6. 6. Educate / prepare the partnership 2-days of facilitated group ideation and strategy Consensus! The partnership is critical to success This is gonna take some time Need demonstration project(s), timely results Mellon planning grant process and outcomes ––– MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  7. 7. Mellon planning grant process and outcomes ––– 38 use cases...prioritized by the partners What defines a “critical mass” of American Art LOD? Recognize challenges around: URL creation and management Harmonization (aka Reconciliation) between like / related entities MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  8. 8. Next Steps Map data from 13 partner institutions Prepare and publish data linked to the Linked Data cloud Integrate emerging tools/standards (e.g., IIIF which brings images into the equation in an LD-friendly manner) Obtain IMLS matching grant Develop application(s) facilitating use of the linked data Spread the love Publish Best Practices and Lessons Learned Develop open source tools Publish via open licensing where possible http://linkeddata.org/ MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  9. 9. Perspectives from an AAC partner Motivators for participation: An opportunity to share new content. Elevate lesser known collection strengths. Leverage collective energy and educational resources. American, Mrs. Walter Clarke and Her Son Marvia H. Clarke, ca. 1840 MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  10. 10. Collective Energy and Educational Resources Experimental development! Try new techniques, explore new technologies, creatively extend the use of existing resources in a low-risk environment. Deep dive into technology with institutions who have both similar and different challenges. Connect with humanities and technology experts who provide support and tools. Gilbert Stuart, George Washington, 1793 MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  11. 11. Collective Energy and Educational Resources “Linked open data is the bleeding edge of web technology,” said Sara Snyder, chief of media and technology at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which organized the consortium. “It’s not the easiest starting point for most museums, but it’s potentially more powerful than anything we’ve seen so far because of the baked-in connectedness.” “New Online Openness Lets Museums Share Works With the World.” The New York Times, October 27, 2015. MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  12. 12. Personalizing what is learned in pursuit of improved data management and access. Looking at (evaluating, auditing, cleaning, getting better at exporting) our own data. Understanding interoperability and ontologies in practice. The data model as an “information strategic plan”. Knowledge Outcomes from Planning Phase American, Portrait of a Woman, ca. 1840 MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  13. 13. Tangible Outcomes from Planning Phase A draft mapping of “tombstone” information to the CIDOC-CRM. Generating a structured data export (TMS/SQL → XML) that supports mapping to RDF. Opportunity farming (IIIF)! William Jacob Baer, Aurora, 1896 MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015
  14. 14. Report on the American Art Collaborative Project Presented by MCN | NOVEMBER 5th, 2015 Neal Johnson njohn@his.com Shane Richey Shane.Richey@crystalbridges.org Kate Blanch kblanch@thewalters.org

Editor's Notes

  • The Genesis of AAC
    This story begins back around 2011
    There was this growing LOD cloud and there weren’t many nodes from the cultural heritage world. Which some saw as an opportunity.
    ISI and Eleanor kicked off a project with SAAM to convert and publish their collection data into the LOD cloud.
    SAAM Converted and published their data and then quickly realized that while they had data, it was opened and was linkable, but it would be much happier with friends in the museum, library and archive world to link their data with, so they started looking for partners.

    ==================

    Shane
    Genesis of the AAC - 1

    The LD Cloud diagram didn’t contain much cultural heritage, let alone art historical data....how do we carve out a space in the diagram representing our interests?
  • Genesis of the AAC
    We started bringing together a few museums to start meeting and building some interest in LOD, at this point we were a loose group with a common goal, so we pursued a planning grant from mellon, which was awarded in late 2013.
    We had a few meetings to test the viability of a museum collaboration and in 2013 a Mellon planning grant kicked things off.
    Goal was to build a critical mass of LOD and to establish a set of standards and best practices that would scale to any size museum and would decrease the price of entry. To make the process repeatable by any other institution.


    =================

    prior to this, we had been a loose group of museums that were in a discovery phase

    How did we choose the participating museums?
    Diversity - The goal from Eleanor’s perspective. both large and small museums so that we could have a variety to test the viability of LOD conversion across institutions.
    some university
    some private
    some public
    some in major cities, some in smaller markets
    A lot of it came about through word of mouth and personal connections.
    Crystal Bridges was new and we’re just building our collection online.
  • Selecting participating museums
    Selecting museums
    Looking for diversity both large and small museums so that we could have a variety to test the viability of LOD conversion across institutions.
    some university
    some private
    some public
    some in major cities, some in smaller markets
    A lot of it came about through word of mouth and personal connections.
    We were included at Crystal bridges because Crystal Bridges was new and we’re just building our collection online.

    ===============

    How did we choose the participating museums?
    Diversity - The goal from Eleanor’s perspective. both large and small museums so that we could have a variety to test the viability of LOD conversion across institutions.
    some university
    some private
    some public
    some in major cities, some in smaller markets
    An archive [Neal suggests adding this as a point about heterogeneity in LD source data is made later on]
    A lot of it came about through word of mouth and personal connections.
    Crystal Bridges was new and we’re just building our collection online.






  • AAC Rationale – Learn together as a collaborative; build a critical mass of LD to explore and demo its value
    As primary holders of art objects and data AAC members want to make sure LOD is accurate
    More precise results when searching(Semantic Web)
    Build richer contexts for inquiry by integrating data from different sources
    Interest in access across the partnership as well as linking to other LOD nodes: providing more knowledge than any single institution
    Cross domain searching as a window to the world of knowledge
    Greater visibility; more outreach
    Collaborative platform potential (curator to curator)

    ===============


    AAC Rationale – Learn together as a collaborative; build a critical mass of LD to explore and demo its value
    As primary holders of art objects and data AAC members want to make sure LOD is accurate
    More precise results when searching(Semantic Web)
    Build richer contexts for inquiry by integrating data from different sources
    Interest in access across the partnership as well as linking to other LOD nodes: providing more knowledge than any single institution
    longer term goals
    Cross domain searching as a window to the world of knowledge
    Greater visibility; more outreach
    Collaborative platform potential (curator to curator)




  • educating / preparing to work together
    Partnership education...Curators, registrars, educators, archivists, technologists, etc. all invited to the party
    assemble a group of advisors (CRM specialists, IIIF gurus, RDF toolkit builders, facilitators)
    conduct 8 months worth of online tutorials and informative sessions for the group
    How the CRM works and how it’s used
    LD resources (SAAM, Getty vocabs, British Museum & ResearchSpace)
    Data aggregators (DPLA, Europeana)
    Tools (KARMA, International Image Interoperability Framework - IIIF)
    Perspectives and consideration on LD and its utility and value in service to cultural heritage and the AAC in particular
    2 days of group facilitation in Washington, DC...post-it note and tear-sheet heaven (or hell)
    Creative ideation of LD usage examples in service to American Art museums...scholarship, conservation, publication, exhibitions, public programs, education, etc.
    Consensus! (27-page report detailing all the insights and ideas...was this shared on the project site?)
    the partnership makes sense as a way to achieve greater understanding / proving of the value of LD
    few if any of the partners could achieve anything like this alone
    You need technologists and subject matter experts (curators, educators, archivists, etc.) to pair together and execute creation of linked data and tools in service to discovery and reuse
    “Aha!” moments shared by all…”I get it now!” “I see the potential!”
    This is gonna take some time
    This is a decidedly technical exercise. need advisors, benefit from prior efforts, technologists, etc.
    close collaboration/coordination between technical folks and subject matter experts is critical at all points in the process of strategizing, architecting solutions, converting and using Linked data, etc..
    Need to scope it carefully and take reasonably sized bites that can be funded and staffed...this is no one’s primary job and we need to respect that.
    Need demonstration project(s)...and timely results to keep everyone engaged and show progress and value at every early opportunity
  • But let’s talk about a few key items
    38 use cases...partners rated and prioritized them and decided to focus the next phase of effort on data conversion and...
    designing and developing an interface providing browsable discovery across the AAC partner data...deep / creative / flexible inspection of the data.
    provide flexibility/novelty in navigation
    the interfaces required may not have been fully understood/discovered yet…there’s some serious design thinking/effort required to fully realize the potential we want to realize
    there are interesting examples out there but few are proven in support of the kind of discovery we’re interested in...hairballs, etc.
    the matching grant that will compliment the IMLS will kickstart this effort
    What defines a “critical mass of American Art data”? Two dimensions in the answer
    what volume is required? Don’t have exact count yet but upwards of 100K object records will likely be delivered as linked data in the IMLS-funded effort.
    how heterogeneous does it need to be to maximize utility but not over-complicate / enlarge the project in a way that delays or frustrates early effort?
    art object data first...tools, processes, experience is well in hand in support of this
    But we recognize that constituent data, provenance, exhibition history, archives, curatorial records, conservation data/reports, media, manuscripts, etc. to follow?
    One of Linked Data’s promises is to help break down silos that exist between these kind of data...stay tuned...future phases of effort will reveal to what degree these additional sources of data and information would be included
    Need to consider the challenge of:
    URL curation and management...a tool to support this work was added to the scope of the next phase of effort
    “harmonization” (aka “reconciliation”) of entities like artist names and divergent vocabularies that enables the linking part of linked data that expresses its full value. Mellon convened a panel of experts to vision a way forward...report available through Mellon, Rob Sanderson a leader in the IIIF group
    sell the idea/value of LD in respective institutions...involve staff and management…
    use the resources and argumentation compiled by the project including value propositions
    recognize the challenges of: (GLOSS THIS!)
    URL curation and management...a tool to support this work was added to the scope of the next phase of effort
    “harmonization” (aka “reconciliation”) of entities when linking between partner linked data sets
    Artist names and application of divergent controlled vocabularies means collaboration is required to sort out the linkages that will identify that two entities with different instance data are actually equivilents…like artists or multilingual variant subject terms. Pointing to 3rd party authorities can help but some handwork will be required.
    Mellon convened a panel of experts to vision a way forward...report available through Mellon, Rob Sanderson a leader in the IIIF group
    “openness”
    Linked “OPEN” Data adds a political and legal dimension that is non-trivial to navigate
    Negotiations and decision-making is under way within museums to apply the appropriate licenses
  • Prepare and publish data linked to the Linked Data cloud - We currently elbow deep in exporting, converting and preparing our data to be published and linked back to the LD cloud
    Emerging tools - IIIF - a platform integrate images in the lod world. Karma. The various naming authorities
    IMLS Grant - to continue converting data.
    Currently looking for a matching grant to Start developing applications -
    Browse app - Both as a proof of concept, as well as tool that we can use to demonstrate the flexibility and power of linked open data, we’ll start building a browse application that will allow us to search and browse content that has been supplied by the 13 museums.
    link curation tool that will be built as an adjunct to Karma - will give us the ability to create and manage links between the collections.
    best practices - The goal of our efforts will be to create a model that will be scalable to include more museums, we hope for this to become a standard practice for cultural institutions, yet do it in a way that’s achievable for museums with smaller teams.
    Develop open source tools including a link curation tool and IIIF/CRM translator that will be shared with other institutions

    =======================


    Shane

    Prepare and publish data linked to the Linked Data cloud - We currently elbow deep in exporting, converting and preparing our data to be published and linked back to the LD cloud

    Start developing applications - Both as a proof of concept, as well as tool that we can use to demonstrate the flexibility and power of linked open data, we’ll start building a browse application that will allow us to search and browse content that has been supplied by the 13 museums.

    best practices - The goal of our efforts will be to create a model that will be scalable to include more museums, we hope for this to become a standard practice for cultural institutions, yet do it in a way that’s achievable for museums with smaller teams.
    Develop open source tools including a link curation tool and IIIF/CRM translator that will be shared with other institutions
  • 1. New Content: An IMLS Museums for America grant supported the digitization of over half of the American art collection, which was just completed when the AAC was forming. Included in this collection are these portrait miniatures illustrated on my slides.
    2. Elevate Collection Strengths: American Art was the earliest collecting interest of founder William Walters, the contemporary art of his time. But because our collection is so ethnographic, we rarely get to focus on our small but important collection of American art. The Walters also have one of the largest collections of Alfred Jacob Miller works in North America (over 200 watercolors depicting the fur trade in what is now the Wyoming area).
    3. Leveraging collective energy and resources around linked open data was, obviously the primary motivator. Like every museum big and small, we are always seeking ways to ACTIVATE existing content in exciting, current, ways. So, let’s focus a little bit more on collective resources.
  • Experimental development in a low-risk environment.
    It is simply not easy to get institutional buy-in for experimental, “learning-based” projects when internal staff time, hardware, software and resources in general are maxed out. However, museums need to be able to implement new technologies and methods as they enter the digital-web-driven world at large, to stay interesting and vital. So to have the opportunity to try new data management and modeling techniques, and explore new technologies in a cost-subsidized, faciltiated environment has been invaluable. We should do this all the time. Frankly, (and I hope I’m not alone in saying this…) if our museum had to contribute dollars, we wouldn’t have been able to participate.
    Also fostering a low-risk environment is the consortium of many institutions. The AAC bringing together a diverse group of institutions helps to lend credibility (from a management perspective) to linked data, what is considered pretty “bleeding edge”.
    The deep dive into technology with a diverse group of institutions, who have similar and totally different challenges and requirements is an excellent way to fool proof your own digital “strategy” or project approach. It also boosts confidence to have peer support and to GIVE peer support - that should NOT BE UNDERrated...it can be a lonely landscape out there when you trying to do new things with limited resources.
    Connecting with humanities and technology experts who have literally been assembled by other humantiites and technology experts has been amazing. The team assembled would not be entirely accessible to a somewhat (not to be deprecating here, I mean this with loving kindness) “low-visibility” museum. It’s not that those experts assembled as part of AAC would ignore or be uncooperative, it’s that without a collaborative environment I wouldn’t have known neccesarily who to seek out, and where the best sources of information were held.
  • This is a great quote, and it expresses candidly how I believe a lot of the AAC participants feel about linked data and this project. It’s not the easiest starting point for musems, it is really not. The technology has a high learning curve, and honestly, the closer you get to publishing your data in linked data or RDF, strangely the more complicated it gets. You may master getting XML out of your database and learn about standardar ontologies, but then you have to jump into SPARQL and XSLT and recover from the URI mind meld that you will undoubtedly undergo). However, for decades museums have really, in earnest wanted to do a better job at connecting to each other, because we inhenrently understand that our collections overlap. And highlighting the overlaps could strengthen the experience for our audiences in ways we’ve not seen before.
  • Personalizing what is learned. While this project’s goal might be to create a mass of linked data about American Art, obviously what we learn can be applied to all our data and entire collection.
    Evaluating our own data. The AAC project purposefully did not define stringent submission standards (such as export formats, a minimum number or set of required fields and flexible record counts).. This gave us an opportunity to highlight the strengths of our data. We can focus on the data points that we think have potential (expand where we want, turn our back on bad data if we want, explored new ways of telling stories with data if we want).
    Using ontologies (like the CIDOC-CRM) and learning how to model or map data to an ontology, thereby creating “structured” data has been easier to understand in the context of a real end point than my previous attempts. For example, we are learning about linked data. We have a provenance field that contains names, dates, locations. We have been quote on quote “trained” as part of the AAC to understand that we want to isolate and activate each name, date and location contained within that data field, in order to connect with each others references (and references on the web) to those same names, dates, and locations. I have found when you are trying to develop a data strategy or an “information strategic” plan outside of a real, working project... it crumbles pretty fast. Working with real data on a project with real end goals has made all the difference.

  • Yes, we were able to map some basic data to the CIDOC CRM and create graphical data models that will inform both this project and our data management practices as a whole!
    Yes! I have really dug into generating structured data from our database that supports RDF, or the aforementioned mapping to CIDOC-CRM.
    Knowledge of structured data, linked data and interoperability has motivated us to adopt “interoperability” as kind of a digital strategic plan. We’re trying to find ways to complement structured data such as IIIF. I am working on a IIIF pilot implementation, which will allow us to use images in new ways, just as linked data will allow us to activate our data in new ways.
    THE END!
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