Work package 3: Metadata requirements for digitising and archiving contemporary art

Start month: 1
End month: 24
WP-Leader: iMinds


  • Contextualisation and documentation issues for digitising contemporary art
  • Identifying metadata and semantic vocabulary for different types within contemporary art to be used in each collecting institution’s system;
  • Assistance on the implementation of (minimum or adequate) metadata requirements into each collecting institution’s cataloguing system.

Description of work

The amount and quality of artwork metadata to be digitised vary very much amongst the participating institutions and according to the types of artworks in the collection. While some institutions may provide extensive descriptions that exist already electronically or that have to be transformed from print into digital text, others may provide only very basic information on their objects. WP3 will investigate cataloguing and metadata standards for contemporary art in general (with metadata schemes such as CDWA, Spectrum, MuseumDAT and VRA Core, and vocabularies such as RKDartists & and ULAN) and of those used within the consortium, to obtain an optimally rich scheme despite the different formats used in collections. In order to create this deliverable, WP3 will also use the results of the D2.1 Assessment of the collections of individual content partners and their expertise.

WP3 will provide content partners with an overview of recommended metadata fields which will help them fulfil requirements of ‘minimum level metadata’ as set out by Europeana and other possible aggregators (local, regional or sectoral). This work will be done in cooperation with WP5. D3.1. will not only focus on minimum metadata elements, but will also provide ready-to-use examples of rich metadata sets (including technical metadata) in order to provide as much information as possible on a contemporary art object and its reproduction. The work of WP3 will (amongst others) convince participating institutions to create the richest metadata schemes possible. The more information on an object recorded, the more meaningful its future use will be. Offering a richer description than the element set now used by Europeana, anticipates the future evolution of Europeana towards a semantic, wider metadata environment. These wider descriptions will also help when publishing the records gathered together as Linked Open Data, where the records will become further enriched with links to already existing relevant online information (and not only with links to other partners’ databases, see WP5).

If the WP2 work points out that in some partner institutions a proper cataloguing system is not (yet) in place, WP3 will help those institutions in setting up a cataloguing environment (e.g. Collective Access) that will comply with the needs of the institution and the findings of the WP3 on metadata requirements.

The requirements for cataloguing will include guidelines on the creation of new metadata. These can then be used by WP4 in the digitisation process so as to ensure that all content partners will use a harmonised set of cataloguing tools. By deciding on a common way to identify every type of digital content to be produced (e.g. file naming), interoperability between the different partner collections and their presence in Europeana will be facilitated. All three aspects – metadatstandards, recommended metadata fields as well as interoperability requirements will be covered by the D3.1 Metadata implementation guidelines for digitised contemporary art works.

One of the distinguishing features of the digitisation process of contemporary art is the need for adequate contextualisation and documentation of the objects to be digitised. As already illustrated in WP2, contemporary art has some very specific requirements for digitisation. For instance, special attention should be given to the preservation of the ‘look and feel’ of the art objects. This ‘look and feel’ has to be described in the metadata of the artwork as well. Creating a rich data environment around the digitised objects will increase their value (both for research and for the general public) and make it easier to link objects or collections based on their context, their place in the discourse of art history and their place in the field of European contemporary art. It is the aim of Europeana to make its service evolve into a semantic web environment over the course of time. Anticipating this evolution, DCA will identify semantic concepts to define and link digitised contemporary art (D3.2. Recommendation on contextualising and interlinking contemporary art works). The metadata gathered together will be published as Linked Open Data with the use of a dedicated infrastructure, set up by WP5.


  • D3.1. Metadata implementation guidelines for digitised contemporary art works (M12)
  • D3.2. Recommendation on contextualising and interlinking contemporary art works (M24)


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