Washington, DC—The National Gallery of Art will be the first American art museum to invite teams of data scientists and art historians to analyze, contextualize, and visualize its permanent collection data. The Gallery’s full permanent collection data has been released to six teams of researchers from institutions including Bennington College, Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University, George Mason University, Macalester College, New College of Florida, University of California, Los Angeles, and Williams College. Questions from curators, conservators, and researchers will help guide this analysis, and teams are encouraged to pursue whichever avenues of inquiry they find most compelling. The study will culminate in a two-day Datathon during which the teams will finalize their visualizations and present their findings at a public livestreamed event on Friday, October 25, 2019, at 3:30 p.m. The project is led by Diana Greenwald, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, National Gallery of Art.
The Datathon coincides with other major efforts by the Gallery to make its collection more widely available to the public. Led by Benjamin Zweig, digital projects coordinator for the division of digital imaging and visual services, the Gallery is in the process of donating 53,000 images of works of art to Wikimedia Commons. This follows the launch in 2012 of NGA Images, which implemented an open-access image policy resulting in nearly 5 million free downloads of publication-quality collection images. With this policy, high-resolution images of permanent collection works believed to be in the public domain are available on images.nga.gov to search, browse, share, and download free of charge for any use. NGA Images launched with 20,000 images and now has 53,000 available. The Gallery is also contributing basic collection data on 130,000 works of art to Wikidata, an open data platform developed by the Wikimedia Foundation.
A Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon on Saturday, November 16, 2019, will extend the contribution, encouraging participants to focus on prints and drawings and make use of the images of more than 22,000 works on paper from the Gallery’s collection that will be donated to Wikimedia Commons. With these efforts, the Gallery continues its commitment to encouraging public engagement with its collection through open cultural heritage efforts.
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