National Gallery of Denmark’s Plans for Digitizing Its Collection

Posted in museums by Editor on May 5, 2016

Frederik Ludvig Bradt (1747-1829), Moentkabinettet paa Rosenborg, 1791

Frederik Ludvig Bradt (1747–1829), Coin Cabinet at Rosenborg, etching, 1791
(Copenhagen: SMK / The National Gallery of Denmark, KKS8030)

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As of today, a search of the SMK collection with the filter for 1700 to 1800 turns up 8204 works. From the press release (2 May 2016). . .

The SMK, The National Gallery of Denmark, launches a digital project that will, over the course of the next four years, make the National Gallery’s art collection freely available to everyone—for any purpose, ranging from fun to serious production. The objective is to make art relevant to more people. The project is made possible by a generous donation from the Nordea Foundation of DKK 11.7 million (EUR 1.6 million).

In countries such as The Netherlands, the USA and the UK, large museums have digitised their collections and made them available to everyone for years now, thereby endeavouring to meet the demands of present and future consumers of art and culture who are no longer satisfied with being spectators. They want to participate actively, and they want to put culture to use in their own lives. The lessons learned from these efforts are clear: being able to actively select, re-purpose, remix, and share works means that far more people access and use the collections. Including people who would not usually have visited or used the museum.

The SMK collection comprises more than 250,000 works of art. Approximately one per cent of that collection is on display and can be accessed by visitors to the museum in Copenhagen. In recent years the SMK has launched a range of pilot projects to explore how the museum’s digital treasures can be used in new ways, in new contexts and by all users. These initiatives have progressed by increments and been modest in scale, but the results have shown that there is demand for such activities. In fact, the findings proved so promising that the SMK will now, thanks to a generous donation of DKK 11.7 million (EUR 1.6 million) from the Nordea Foundation, embark on a new project: SMK Open. Scheduled to run until 2020, the SMK Open project will pave the way for truly democratic use of the museum’s art collections.

The history and many stories of art will continue to be explored and presented by the museum’s in-house experts. At the same time the SMK will open up its collection in digital form, offering a huge toolbox full of building blocks in the form of high-quality image files that can be used by anyone for any purpose—for example for books, education materials, online blogs, Wikipedia articles, film and TV productions, interior design and outdoor decoration—the only limit is the users’ imagination.

SMK Open makes the National Gallery of Denmark’s art collection—which belongs to us all—available to anyone at all times. There will be no admission fee, but plenty of excellent and informative presentation materials and a warm invitation to have fun, play around and explore the wondrous world of art. The project will make even more people co-owners and co-producers of our shared art heritage,” says Henrik Lehmann Andersen, director of the Nordea Foundation, which aims to support and enhance ‘the good life’ for everyone.

The SMK Open project gives each work its own digital webpage that can also contain materials such as film footage, articles, audio tracks, x-rays of the work, and information on any future events or exhibitions at the museum which feature that work. In addition to this, thousands of photographs of art works will be made available in the highest possible resolution and quality. All works on which no copyright restrictions apply can be used by anyone for any purpose.

Users can also comment on each work, contribute their own information and insights or enter into a dialogue with the museum staff. Users are also invited to take part in the project’s development and will be involved in shaping and defining the end result right from the outset.

“In recent years we at the SMK have worked to offer many different gateways to the world of art. Our experience tells us that art becomes relevant to more people when they can approach it in their own way. Many wish to actively use art in their own lives. SMK Open will make it possible to download and use a wealth of information from the SMK toolbox—and at the same time we want to incorporate the users’ insights and information about the collection in that toolbox. This is because we want to forge closer links between our collection—which belongs to public—and the greatest possible number of people we can—of any age, gender, level of education and social or cultural background,” says Mikkel Bogh, director of the SMK.

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