OpenART: Open Metadata for Art Research at the Tate
by Julie Allinson
Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (February/March 2012; Vol. 38 No. 3)
From the Introduction
OpenART (http://yorkdl.wordpress.com/category/openart) was a six-month project funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the United Kingdom under their Infrastructure for Resource Discovery Program. A partnership among the University of York, Tate Britain and technical partners Acuity Unlimited, the project’s aim was to design and expose linked open data for the Tate research dataset, “The London Artworld 1660-1735.” The creation of the dataset was partially funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of a larger project called “Court, Country, City.” The London Artworld 1660-1735 (hereafter London Artworld) is an ongoing research effort, involving Tate and the University of York, to transcribe primary and secondary sources that trace the people, places and activities comprising the art world in London at that time.
Partner efforts around this dataset provided a chance to enhance the planned website for London Artworld (http://artworld.york.ac.uk/) with semantic and open data. Open data in its broadest sense means data that can be made publicly available under a license that permits and promotes wide use. In our context, it also means data exposed in a format that allows for other applications to explore and use the data. In general, OpenART offered partners the opportunity to explore what open data might offer our respective institutions. The Tate, for example, is very interested in how open data might be beneficial throughout its systems, from provenance tracking through curation to its institutional website.
This article offers an overview of this short project, some reflections on the approaches chosen and some thoughts about open data in the library, archive and museum sector. It aims to be practical, focusing on the work done and choices made, more than on the theory behind it. The article assumes some familiarity with open and linked data. It is written from the perspective of someone new to the whole area of open data and as such should not be read as a definitive guide.