DigitaltMuseum.org – Museum collections online

DigitaltMuseum is an online platform for museums and other cultural heritage institutions. The aim of the platform is to make collections accessible to the public and for the public to be able to access them all in one place, anywhere and at any time. The platform also encourages dialogue between the institutions and the public and can be a great tool for dissemination, research and communication.

At present, DigitaltMuseum contains 273 collections with a total of approximately 5.3 million objects, consisting of:

  • 3.3 million photographs
  • 1.9 million artefacts
  • 982 exhibitions
  • 70 861 art designs
  • 72 124 fine arts
  • 58 642 names of individuals, organisations, etc.
  • 8 622 architectural drawings and photographs
  • 3 167 buildings
  • 4 838 stories and articles
  • 4 688 folders with curated content

The website is available on three domains: digitaltmuseum.no for content from Norwegian institutions, .se for content from Swedish institutions and -.org which combines all content from both the Norwegian and Swedish sites. The interface on all three domains is available in Norwegian, Swedish and English. The platform is scalable making it possible to include more domains and regions in the future.

KulturIT AS and eKultur:

KulturIT AS is a not-for-profit company owned by 10 museums. It currently develops and maintains five different digital tools, known collectively as eKultur, which are used by several hundred museums in Norway and Sweden:

  • Primus – database and management for museum collections
  • DigitaltMuseum – art and cultural heritage accessible online
  • KulturNav – creating, managing and linking data, through common terminology, names, authorities and vocabularies
  • KulturPunkt – mobile application and digital content in exhibitions
  • Minne – collecting and publishing personal stories online

DigitaltMuseum may be used by itself or in interaction with the other eKultur -services making it possible to use the data interchangeably. For instance, objects, names and other data from KulturNav are presented as linked data on DigitaltMuseum. DigitaltMuseum also delivers data to KulturPunkt so that published objects may be used and shown in mobile applications and in exhibitions.

DigitaltMuseum for the users:

DigitaltMuseum provides access to more than 5 million digital photographs, buildings, art, artefacts and multimedia, distributed between nearly 300 collections in Norway and Sweden. The user can search in one or more collections, browse objects in lists, in a grid, on a map or on a timeline, collect and save objects in folders, download and order photographs and share the information on social media and email. Every object has its own page where the user can view larger images, videos, descriptions and metadata. A comment function on each object page also allows the user to share their knowledge about items in the collections with the museums and other visitors to the page.

Searching the collections
The easiest way to perform a search is by simply typing one or more words in the free text search bar centred at the top of the page. The user can choose to limit the search to one collection or search in all the collections. Search filters can be applied both before and after performing the search to show only results with images or other multimedia and only from specific museum(s). The user can also choose to filter the results according to which type of license the images haves. Advanced search options allow the user to limit search results to specific object types, places, topics, dates or time periods, material, producer, license, object name, history, technique and classification.

Browsing the collections
There are several ways for the users to explore the content on DigitaltMuseum. The most common way is by browsing the objects in lists and tables, but content can also be viewed as images in a grid or on a timeline. Objects with coordinates can be viewed on a map, allowing the user to browse content within a geographical area.

From the DigitaltMuseum start page, users are given suggestions for new and curated content to browse through.

Linked data
DigitaltMuseum, makes it possible to explore the entirety or parts of a (specific) collection. Common terms and vocabularies link objects to each other across and within collections. This is achieved using KulturNav, a platform where museums can collaborate around and maintain common vocabularies. These links help connecting objects from different institutions, for instance listing out objects connected to a certain artist or photographer making it easier to find relevant content. Moreover, there are established links between objects and articles to external websites like Wikipedia.

Collecting objects in folders
Users can create accounts at DigitaltMuseum. This provides the possibility to log in and save objects in folders. Objects are collected in folders either from the object page or by clicking the object’s thumbnail image in a search. Folders can be set to private or public, allowing them to be shared with others.

Interacting with the museums
Users can comment on an object by using the comment function on the page or send a private inquiry to the owner by filling out a form. Typically, this is used by the general public to provide the institutions with information about an object or a photograph.

Ordering photographs
Some museums make their photographs available for sale when they publish them on DigitaltMuseum. The user then has the option to order a digital or printed version of the photograph by filling out an order form which is available by clicking an “Order” button under the image viewer at the top of the page.

DigitaltMuseum for the museums

Publishing content
KulturIT develops and manages Primus, a collection management tool, which allows automatic publishing to DigitaltMuseum. Each museum may configure and customize which parts and fields of their collection they want to publish. All new or modified objects are automatically updated or published on DigitaltMuseum once every 24 hours. Whereas DigitaltMuseum works best with Primus, there are also ways that enable other content management systems to used to publish content to DigitaltMuseum

Tools for dissemination and communication
All participating museums have their own page on the DigitaltMuseum portal, allowing them to tailor the look and presentation of their institution and their collections within DigitaltMuseum. Museums can be represented with their own colour palette, logo and texts. Advanced tools allow the institutions to curate content by selecting material from the database and combining it with text and media files for a richer storytelling. Further, the museums can create digital exhibitions and folders. DigitaltMuseum also makes it possible for the museums to crowdsource information about their collections by inviting the general public to comment on objects.

Tools for insight and management
Museum users can access, analyse and export traffic and user interactions and manage comments and image orders via a dashboard in DigitaltMuseum. In 2019, the project is testing the use of image recognition software to add searchable keywords to objects. The museums will be able to use the dashboard to manage these keywords.

Distributing and using the content of DigitaltMuseum elsewhere
The museums can apply individual licenses for objects and photos allowing great flexibility in making the content available for browsing, downloading, ordering and re-use. All objects and their associated fields and media, are available through a public API for third party developers to make their own applications using the data. DigitaltMuseum was recently selected to be the new national aggregator of Norway for Europeana.

DigitaltMuseum is a well-established long term sustainable project, which will ensure that the museum collections are available to the public in the present as well as in the future. The work is ongoing and the project strives to continue to provide both museums and the public with efficient, innovative and user-friendly tools for publishing, searching and exploring digital content while promoting interaction between the museums and the public.

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