January 18, 2022

First Release of Getty’s New Research Collections Viewer Offers Digital Access to Vast Archives, Uses Linked Open Data and IIIF Standards

From The Getty:

Now online in its initial release, the Research Collections Viewer offers a visual way to browse and search Getty’s archival collections. The Viewer aims to make it easier to see what we have in our research collections—rare primary source material such as artists’ papers, prints, and photographs—as well as contextual information such as related works by the same artist.


The new Research Collections Viewer connects the finding aids with their associated digitized materials, enabling website users to browse archives in one place. Not only is this vastly more convenient, it also preserves the archival organization of the materials—how they are grouped within the physical archive, for example by chronology or topic. This is a digital feature that researchers have long requested, but that has been elusive due to the siloed data and systems typically used within libraries and archives.

In addition to connecting the finding aids with the digitized materials, the Research Collections Viewer connects archival materials themselves together by leveraging Linked Open Data standards. Using the “Related Material” section, you can explore archives intuitively, investigating relationships between people, places, dates, and ideas.

For its initial launch, the Research Collections Viewer features access to information and many images from the correspondence of artist Sylvia Sleigh and critic Lawrence Alloway and from the Los Angeles photographs of artist Ed Ruscha. We chose these archives because they presented unique challenges that will inform how we present other large and complex collections going forward.


The images in the Research Collections Viewer are delivered using the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), which offers lightning-quick zoom capabilities. In the case of the Ruscha images, you’ll discover a viewing experience vastly more detailed than what is possible with the physical materials. You can zoom in deep enough to see the grain of the film negative.

Over the coming years, all archives from the Getty Research Institute’s special collections and Getty’s institutional archives will be added to the Research Collections Viewer. Each of Getty’s research collections is unique, and the team is moving carefully to ensure that every one is represented as fully and thoughtfully as possible.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.