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Engaging the public in tagging and researching 
the UK’s paintings: two case studies 
Andrew Greg, 
Director, National Inv...
The projects 
• National Inventory Research Project: 
NICE Paintings 
http://www.vads.ac.uk/collections/NIRP/i 
ndex.php 
...
National Inventory Research Project 
NICE Paintings 
• National Inventory Research Project (NIRP) set up 
2001 to aid rese...
Core record: 
David Teniers II, 
Interior of a 
Tavern, oil on 
panel, Shipley Art 
Gallery, 
Gateshead. 
http://www.vads....
Full record: 
David Teniers II, 
Interior of a 
Tavern, oil on 
panel, Shipley Art 
Gallery, 
Gateshead. 
http://www.vads....
The Public Catalogue Foundation 
Your Paintings 
Your Paintings comprises 
images and basic 
information on all 211,000 
o...
Your Paintings 
now on line 
hosted by BBC. 
• Limited 
information, 
but 
• Links to other 
works by the 
artist 
• To ot...
Additional data 
requirements for 
effective searching: 
• Structured content 
keywords 
• Names of people, 
places and ev...
Two examples of other 
museums collecting public 
tags: 
1. Detail of object page 
from Brooklyn Museum 
with ‘Posse’ tags...
2. Detail of object page from Indianapolis Museum of Art using the ‘Steve Tagger’ with tag cloud. 
[N.B. Accessed 10 Jan 2...
Working towards more 
structured tagging: 
1. Match data requirement to 
potential tagger groups 
• No expert knowledge 
r...
Your Paintings Tagger 
Search for a crowdsourcing 
model 
The model, Galaxy Zoo: 
• Launched July 2007 
• 1,000,000 images...
Your Paintings Tagger 
Workflows 
Public workflows 
• Social tagging (‘things and ideas’) 
• Types 
• Subjects 
• Names (p...
Launched in June 2011. 
As of March 2013: 
• 9,090 registered taggers of 
whom 671 (7.3%) are ‘expert’ 
taggers 
• 40% hav...
Your Paintings Tagger 
Screenshots from Your Paintings Tagger, 27 August 2014 
Supertaggers:
Your Paintings Tagger 
• Tags for 23,000 paintings 
delivered to BBC 
• Now about 50-100 
taggers active every day 
• The ...
Your Paintings Tagger 
Work with Oxford Visual Geometry 
Group, which is developing image 
recognition software. 
Abstract...
Your Paintings Tagger 
Benefit of automated 
tag creation for Your 
Paintings Tagger, 
through manual 
check: 
1. Taggers ...
Art Detective 
Aims: 
• Improve the knowledge 
collection managers have 
about the art in their care 
• Improve communicat...
Art Detective 
• Anyone can browse 
Art Detective 
without signing in 
• To make a 
comment they 
must sign up with 
name ...
Art 
Detective 
• Discussion topics on 
Art Detective are 
linked to special 
interest groups with 
expert group leaders 
...
Art 
Detective 
Screenshot of Art 
Detective Discussions 
page with most recently 
commented upon 
discussions from top 
J...
A discussion on 
Art Detective
Art Detective 
Some successes: identifications of a doctor through archival and newspaper research; and of some 
back gard...
Art Detective 
And two outstanding mysteries, several months old: the identity of an obscure subject, possibly 
connected ...
Engaging the public in tagging and 
researching the UK’s paintings: two 
case studies 
Thank you 
• National Inventory Res...
Engaging the public in tagging and researching the UK's paintings: Two case studies
Engaging the public in tagging and researching the UK's paintings: Two case studies
Engaging the public in tagging and researching the UK's paintings: Two case studies
Engaging the public in tagging and researching the UK's paintings: Two case studies
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Engaging the public in tagging and researching the UK's paintings: Two case studies

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A presentation by Andrew Greg, University of Glasgow. Invited talk at a workshop for the 'Scotland's Collections and the Digital Humanities' knowledge-exchange project, hosted at the University of Edinburgh. 12 September 2014. http://www.blogs.hss.ed.ac.uk/archives-now/

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Engaging the public in tagging and researching the UK's paintings: Two case studies

  1. 1. Engaging the public in tagging and researching the UK’s paintings: two case studies Andrew Greg, Director, National Inventory Research Project, University of Glasgow andrew.greg@glasgow.ac.uk Willem van Haecht (1593-1637), The Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest, 1628, oil on panel, 100 x 130 cm, Rubenshuis, Antwerp
  2. 2. The projects • National Inventory Research Project: NICE Paintings http://www.vads.ac.uk/collections/NIRP/i ndex.php • The Public Catalogue Foundation: Your Paintings http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/ • Your Paintings Tagger http://tagger.thepcf.org.uk/ • Art Detective http://www.thepcf.org.uk/artdetective/
  3. 3. National Inventory Research Project NICE Paintings • National Inventory Research Project (NIRP) set up 2001 to aid research in regional museums and improve access to collection information • Initiated by the National Gallery, London, and a steering committee – now the Advisory Committee for Research on European Paintings • Now based in University of Glasgow, NIRP’s first project 2004-7: 8,000 paintings in 200 UK collections • 2009 work with the V&A, the Royal Academy and Apsley House • Over 9,000 paintings and newly researched records now online as NICE Paintings: the National Inventory of Continental European Paintings • New project 2014-15 NIRP in the North, working with four major collections: Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and York. 32 project researchers and Neil MacGregor Scholars (below, with Neil MacGregor and Dr Susan Foister of NG), 12 now in curatorial posts, 7 in academic art history posts and 3 freelance art historians.
  4. 4. Core record: David Teniers II, Interior of a Tavern, oil on panel, Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead. http://www.vads.a c.uk/large.php?uid =84081&sos=1
  5. 5. Full record: David Teniers II, Interior of a Tavern, oil on panel, Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead. http://www.vads.a c.uk/large.php?uid =84081&sos=1
  6. 6. The Public Catalogue Foundation Your Paintings Your Paintings comprises images and basic information on all 211,000 oil paintings in 3,000 UK collections ranging from hospitals to national museums. Originally in book form. Data collected by PCF: • Artist name and attribution qualifier (‘after’, ‘attributed to’, etc.) • Title • Production date, if known • Medium • Size • Accession number • Acquisition method Above: Public Catalogue Foundation, Paintings in Public Ownership. West Yorkshire: Leeds, 2004, p.31
  7. 7. Your Paintings now on line hosted by BBC. • Limited information, but • Links to other works by the artist • To other works in the collection • To more detailed NICE Paintings data and • To Art Detective. Right: painting page from Art Detective
  8. 8. Additional data requirements for effective searching: • Structured content keywords • Names of people, places and events • Types, or genres of paintings • Dates and periods • Styles and artistic movements • Social tags The tasks and constraints: • 200,000 paintings • respond to user research • reliable and consistent • minimise cost • short timescale
  9. 9. Two examples of other museums collecting public tags: 1. Detail of object page from Brooklyn Museum with ‘Posse’ tags on the right. http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/ opencollection/objects/1452/Kiss_ Me_and_Youll_Kiss_the_Lasses
  10. 10. 2. Detail of object page from Indianapolis Museum of Art using the ‘Steve Tagger’ with tag cloud. [N.B. Accessed 10 Jan 2012. New page accessed 8 Oct 2012 has a different layout with the tags at the bottom.]
  11. 11. Working towards more structured tagging: 1. Match data requirement to potential tagger groups • No expert knowledge required – Social tagging – Types – Subjects • Local knowledge useful – Names (people, places and events) • Art history knowledge required – Dates – Styles and movements The solution: crowd sourcing © Glasgow Life Your Paintings Tagger
  12. 12. Your Paintings Tagger Search for a crowdsourcing model The model, Galaxy Zoo: • Launched July 2007 • 1,000,000 images of galaxies • 150,000 worldwide volunteers in first year • 50,000,000 classifications in first year. Key principles: • No expertise required • Images delivered at random • Multiple classifications. Results as good as professionals. www.galaxyzoo.org
  13. 13. Your Paintings Tagger Workflows Public workflows • Social tagging (‘things and ideas’) • Types • Subjects • Names (people, places and events) Expert workflows • Dates • Styles and movements Quality assurance Thresholds • 15 taggers per painting • Tags accepted after: – Things: 2 or more taggers use a term – Names: 2 or more taggers use a name – Types: 4 or more taggers select a type – Subjects: 2 or more taggers select a subject Referrals to ‘Supervisors Interface’ – Specific problem subjects – Two or more names selected in one painting – Abstracts, portraits and still lifes
  14. 14. Launched in June 2011. As of March 2013: • 9,090 registered taggers of whom 671 (7.3%) are ‘expert’ taggers • 40% have tagged fewer than five paintings • Only 15.5% have tagged more than 50 paintings • 49 of these (0.5% of total) have tagged over 1,000 paintings each • Over 3.5 million tags have been created • Over 23,000 paintings have been completed. Productivity of taggers March 2013 25.7% 17.3% 13.0% 41.5% 1.4% 0.6% 0.5% No pictures tagged 1-4 pictures tagged 5-49 pictures tagged 50-249 pictures tagged 250-499 pictures tagged 500-999 pictures tagged 1,000 or more pictures tagged Your Paintings Tagger
  15. 15. Your Paintings Tagger Screenshots from Your Paintings Tagger, 27 August 2014 Supertaggers:
  16. 16. Your Paintings Tagger • Tags for 23,000 paintings delivered to BBC • Now about 50-100 taggers active every day • The first 2,278 completed paintings received an average of: – 61 different free text tags, of which 22 were accepted – 15 different subject terms (excluding ‘Other’), of which 7 were accepted – 87 different tags and keywords of which 30 were accepted. Right: detail of painting page on Your Paintings showing 36 public tags for: Emily Mary Osborn (1828-1925), Study for 'Nameless and Friendless', 1857, oil on panel, York Museums Trust
  17. 17. Your Paintings Tagger Work with Oxford Visual Geometry Group, which is developing image recognition software. Abstract: “The objective of this work is to find objects in paintings by learning object-category classifiers from available sources of natural images. Finding such objects is of much benefit to the art history community as well as being a challenging problem in large-scale retrieval and domain adaptation…” Image from: Elliot J. Crowley and Andrew Zisserman, Visual Geometry Group, Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, ‘In Search of Art’, Workshop on Computer Vision for Art Analysis, ECCV, 2014 http://www.robots.ox.ac.uk/~vgg/publications/2 014/Crowley14a/crowley14a.pdf
  18. 18. Your Paintings Tagger Benefit of automated tag creation for Your Paintings Tagger, through manual check: 1. Taggers shown computer-selected images and confirm identification 2. In two months 250 taggers confirmed nearly 1 million tags for over 200 subjects in 99,600 paintings
  19. 19. Art Detective Aims: • Improve the knowledge collection managers have about the art in their care • Improve communication between curators and sources of expertise • Engage the public in discussions around art history, historical research and connoisseurship. A free-to-use online interface bringing together: • Curators in search of specialist information regarding their collection • Specialist knowledge from academics, the art trade and other experts • Interested members of the general public. Above: screenshot of early design of home page for Art Detective
  20. 20. Art Detective • Anyone can browse Art Detective without signing in • To make a comment they must sign up with name and email address • To start a discussion they must enter via a specific painting page on Your Paintings (right).
  21. 21. Art Detective • Discussion topics on Art Detective are linked to special interest groups with expert group leaders • Users can subscribe to groups and receive updates on new discussions in areas that interest them • Users can follow particular discussions. Right: some of the regional and thematic groups on Art Detective
  22. 22. Art Detective Screenshot of Art Detective Discussions page with most recently commented upon discussions from top July 2014: 5176 unique users (average time on site 4.5 mins) 47% returning visitors (average time on the site 8 mins) 845 registered users (i.e. contributors)
  23. 23. A discussion on Art Detective
  24. 24. Art Detective Some successes: identifications of a doctor through archival and newspaper research; and of some back gardens through local knowledge.
  25. 25. Art Detective And two outstanding mysteries, several months old: the identity of an obscure subject, possibly connected to the Venetian poetess Veronica Franco; and the identity of a minor artist, possibly the Dutchman Ary de Vois (c 1632-1680) or the obscure English gentleman artist Henry Gibbs (1631-1713).
  26. 26. Engaging the public in tagging and researching the UK’s paintings: two case studies Thank you • National Inventory Research Project: NICE Paintings http://www.vads.ac.uk/collections/NIRP/index.php • The Public Catalogue Foundation: Your Paintings http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/ • Your Paintings Tagger http://tagger.thepcf.org.uk/ • Art Detective http://www.thepcf.org.uk/artdetective/ Andrew.greg@glasgow.ac.uk

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