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Guidelines - Cultural Heritage


SWAD-Europe guidelines provide pointers into the parts of the SWAD-Europe project that we feel are particularly relevant to the concerns of particular industry segments or application area. They are not intended to be definitive guides to the wider semantic web resources relevant to the area.

Semantic web and cultural heritage

There is great interest and activity in making information on cultural heritage collections as widely accessible as possible, in particular making use of the web to provide wide public access.

Collection items are not isolated things but are related in rich ways to each other and the environmental, cultural and historical settings in which they are placed. The semantic web offers open standards for encoding such semantically rich and complex descriptions and interrelationships. For a single institution this could help them provide a rich experience for on-line users by enabling them to browse along the relationships between items and to see items fully contextualized. More significantly, by publishing such rich descriptions using shared vocabularies it permits institutions to share their data so that users (whether specialists or members of the public) can gain a wider view of a given topic yet trace the collections and information back to the institution that curates them.

For example, the Museum of Finland has successfully use semantic web technologies to integrate data from several regional museums to create a single portal which supports a rich faceted browsing interface.

Within the SWAD-Europe project the Semantic Portals demonstrator provides similar integration and browsing functionality and indeed the National History Museum, inspired by the SWED project, are exploring opportunities to exploit the semantic web technology for collection level description. The semantic web approach seems to offer several interesting benefits. Firstly, by facilitating integration of distributed data sources rather than purely focusing an a centralized solution it makes it possible for local groups and institutions to continue to host and curate their information while gaining the benefit of integrated access - a more sustainable approach than setting up a central organization to host and manage all the data. Secondly, the open world assumptions behind the semantic web means that the data is very easily extensible so that as new relationships, new ways of viewing the collections or new sources arise the data models can be extended to accommodate them.

Relevant SWAD-Europe resources

The key SWAD-Europe themes relevant here are: