Open Data and Cultural Heritage Workshop

At the end of November the Open Knowledge Foundation hosted a half-day workshop and legal clinic on the issues faced by cultural heritage institutions who are trying to open up data on their collections. Representatives from the British Library, the British Museum, English Heritage, the Imperial War Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the V&A, the Tate, the Wallace Collection and many others joined legal experts and academics in order share their experiences of the legal side of opening up cultural heritage data.

After brief introductions from Jonathan Gray and Mia Ridge, Jill Cousins opened the workshop with a talk about her experiences as Director of Europeana, Europe’s largest online portal for accessing cultural heritage materials. Europeana has already done incredible work in encouraging high-profile GLAM institutions to share the data they hold on their collections in order to make it more accessible to the public, and there are few people who have a better grasp than Jill of the rewards and risks of opening up cultural heritage data. Jill focused on a particular case study concerning Vemeer’s ‘Milkmaid’, further documentation of which can be found here.

There were also three short showcases on how open data from cultural organisations can be reused:

  • Matthew Somerville gave the story behind his wonderful Theatricalia project – and how it inherited data which is now no longer available on the web.
  • Rachel Coldicott spoke about how Culture Hack Day emerged from her work at the Royal Opera House.
  • Ashley Van Haeften, Board Member of Wikimedia UK, told us a bit about how data contributed to the Wikipedia project has been cleaned up and improved by hundreds of volunteers from around the world.

Then we had three legal presentations:

We had very positive feedback from participants, who found the workshop very useful – and there was a lot of enthusiasm for similar events in the future. The Open Knowledge Foundation will be hosting a follow up workshop in the new year, focusing on metadata standards and technologies in cultural heritage institutions. If you’re interested in keeping in touch, you can join the open-glam mailing list.

We thank the Wellcome Trust for kindly giving us a room to use for the workshop and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for supplying tea and coffee.

Some of the slides from the event can be found below and on the OKF’s Slideshare account. Some photos can be found here.