The American Art Collaborative

The American Art Collaborative (AAC) is a consortium of 14 art museums in the United States committed to establishing a critical mass (?) of Linked Open Data (LOD) on the semantic web.

The Collaborative believes that LOD offers rich potential to increase the understanding of art by expanding access to cultural holdings, by deepening research connections for scholars and curators, and by creating public interfaces for students, teachers, and museum visitors. AAC members are committed to learn together about LOD, to identify best practices for publishing museum data as LOD, and to explore applications that will help scholars, educators, and the public.

AAC is committed to sharing best practices, guidelines, and lessons-learned with the broader museum, archives, and library community, building a network of practitioners to contribute quality information about works of art in their collections to the linked open data cloud. The project explores the opportunities and challenges of a "federated" model for LOD, whereby each AAC member assumes responsibility for maintaining and presenting its own data on the web, rather than using a aggregating provider.

The AAC is managed by Eleanor E. Fink, an international art and technology consultant, and founder of AAC.

For more about the AAC, visit the AAC project website.

Grant Support

Thanks to a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a national leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and a second grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the AAC converted the American art holdings of partner museums to LOD. Grants have been managed by the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Mellon grants) and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (IMLS grant).

Educational Briefings

Since 2014, the AAC has organized a series of webinars for the partners, providing background on linked data and discussions of active projects in the cultural heritage sector. There are over 12 briefings available on various aspects of Linked Data.

See all the AAC Educational Briefings

The AAC Demonstration Application

Implicit in AAC’s goals of producing LOD and demonstrating its usefulness are the concepts of collaboration and being able to interconnect data across institutions to support exploration, scholarship, and information access.

This site allows objects and artists from across the 14 partner institutions to be explored through one interface. To design and develop a usable application for exploring the collected data, the project established a Browse Working Group, involving six of the 14 institutions and led by Design for Context, who developed the demonstration application.

This application is a prototype - it is not meant to represent all the things that can be done with museum data in the future, but rather to provide easy access to the available partner information and focus on how data from the different institutions can be connected and explored. Some features that had been discussed by the partners were not able to be incorporated due to limitations in the data or LOD conversion, while other features were not incorporated due to the constrained scope of the initial project. Additional features and ideas remain "on the drawing board" for the future.