Walters Art Museum: A case study in sharing
The Walters Art Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland, is a model OpenGLAM institution. With a forward thinking staff aimed at opening their collections in unique and innovative ways, and a collection consisting of over 35,000 objects that are public domain, the Walters is prime real estate when it comes to OpenGLAM.
In early 2012, the Walters started partnering with volunteers from the Wikimedia community. The idea for the partnership was hatched out of GLAM Baltimore 2011; a series of events that brought volunteers from the Wikimedia community to the Walters to present about GLAM-Wiki projects. GLAM-Wiki is a project that focuses on fostering relationships and projects between cultural institutions and the Wikimedia community, the community that maintains websites like Wikipedia.
This case study, written by myself and Dylan Kinnett, Manager of Web and Social Media at the Walters, showcases the projects that evolved out of this ongoing partnership. It summarizes key aspects of this partnership:
- The image donation of over 18,000 images to Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository that supplies websites like Wikipedia with images. These images are used in thousands of Wikipedia articles in over 40 languages. They have been viewed on Wikipedia over 10 million times and additional metrics are included.
- The changing of licenses on the Walters website to be more open, allowing the public to utilize the Walters website, or Wikimedia Commons, as locations to collect media and curatorial descriptions without copyright restriction.
- An internship modeled after the Wikipedian in Residence concept. This internship is structured for museum studies students interested in new media and open culture. The first Wikipedia intern wrote numerous articles about artworks in the museum, and learned skills focused around art history research, Wikipedia mark-up and policies, collaborative editing, and other skills that can only improve a resume.
- The importance of outreach events in bringing together GLAMs and OpenGLAM community members. Without the GLAM Baltimore event, this partnership may have been delayed or not happened.
The case study will be expanded to include coverage about the newly developed transcription project, which has the Walters working with Wikimedia community members to transcribe and translate rare Latin documents in the museum collection. These documents will then be shared via Wikisource, a free online library.
We hope that this case study will inspire and engage others to develop open sharing projects and programs. Please forward, share, and brainstorm how your GLAM can share its collections and knowledge holdings to provide further access to the public through OpenGLAM.