Research visit at the British Museum in London

During the last week of March, Cristina-Iulia Bucur and Leon Wessels, the academy assistants working for INVENiT², visited London. Cristina and Leon joined Chris Dijkshoorn, one of the project supervisors, for a short research visit in the British Museum, where Chris is involved in the ResearchSpace project. The goal of the ResearchSpace project is to build a collaborative environment for humanities and cultural heritage research by using knowledge representation and Semantic Web technologies. Members of the ResearchSpace project are currently working with the British Museum datasets and making use of the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) semantic framework. Therefore, a short research visit of the academy assistants to this research group would prove to be quite beneficial in current and future stages of the project.

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On Monday Cristina and Chris met with Lora Aroyo and Guus Schreiber. Guus is a professor in the Web & Media group of the VU department of Computer Science. Together they introduced the INVENiT² project to the ResearchSpace group and discussed the mutual benefits of Chris working with collections of the British Museum as well as the Rijksmuseum. The group participated in an extensive presentation about the MicroPasts project, a web platform that is focussed on CrowdSourcing for the public engagement of digital communities. Members of the MicroPasts project are presently working on a digital catalogue of the British Museum that contains objects from the Bronze Age. By means of CrowdSourcing, the MicroPasts project creates digital 3D models of objects that can then be further annotated by the public. For the INVENiT² team it was very interesting to learn more about the MicroPasts project. During INVENiT² the team plans to include multiple cultural heritage datasets and annotate prints and other works of art of the Rijksmuseum collection by means of CrowdSourcing.

On Wednesday Chris, Cristina, and Leon met with An van Camp. An is the curator responsible for Dutch and Flemish prints and drawings before 1880 at the British Museum. The INVENiT² team members briefly introduced the project. Afterwards, An explained the basic principles of Merlin. Merlin is central curatorial database of the British Museum. It contains records for nearly two million art objects that have been digitised by the British Museum. Thereafter, An showed some of the prints and copperplates that can be found in the British Museum collection. Among these were some original prints by Rembrandt, including one original copper plate. At this point, Alan Outten, a user interface designer of the ResearchSpace project, joined the group, as he is very interested in Rembrandt’s prints and the story behind the production of such prints.

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Working for a week in the British Museum with a team of experts is very inspiring. The academy assistants are thankful for this incredible experience and for all the interesting discussions and presentations. In particular they would like to thank Alan, An, Barry, Chris, Daniela, Dominic, and Sarah for their hospitality during their visit.

Cristina and Leon’s trip to London was funded by the Graduate School of Humanities and the Network Institute of VU University Amsterdam.

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