New Online Openness Lets Museums Share Works With the World - The New York Times

peter.suber's bookmarks 2015-10-29


" ... The open-content museum dates to 2011, when the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam made the first of 208,000 images available for download at no cost after curators found more than 10,000 low-quality scans of one of its Vermeers online. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Yale University Art Gallery soon followed. Today more than 50 cultural institutions have opened their collections for unrestricted use. The number is steadily increasing as administrators come to recognize the value of circulating work to a wider audience online and inviting the public to study and use it at will ...  But not every museum shares that sense of obligation. Some institutions, including the French National Library, have resisted on the grounds that giving away the licensing rights erodes their authority and undercuts their control over valuable images — the most popular of which can earn essential revenue when sold for a download fee or merchandised with holiday cards and T-shirts (though the income may barely cover the administrative costs of the sales) ... Encyclopedic compilations like those of the British Museum or the Metropolitan Museum of Art have relatively few legal hurdles because the works have largely passed into the public realm. Contemporary-art museums, on the other hand, face the difficulty of clearing the copyrights of living artists or those of deceased artists with rights controlled by estates. The Museum of Modern Art has withheld images of its collection for just that reason. However, this year MoMA posted a spreadsheet with titles, dates and other vital statistics, known as tombstones, for 120,000 works. The tombstones can be revealing in a way that images cannot. They show, for example, that the lag between creation and acquisition has steadily diminished ... The big-picture goal of the open-content movement is to make our entire cultural heritage accessible. Fourteen art museums took a meaningful step in February by agreeing to pool their collections with linked open data, a connective tissue that allows databases to converse in a way that goes beyond simple keyword searches. When completed a year from now, the system will recognize that a doctoral candidate researching John Singer Sargent at the Dallas Museum of Art might also want to know more about 19th-century portraiture and will pull relevant texts and images from the 13 other linked museums ..."


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Tags: oa.libraries oa.archives oa.museums oa.glam oa.lod oa.digitization oa.libre oa.images oa.arts

Date tagged:

10/29/2015, 11:33

Date published:

10/29/2015, 07:37