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The British Museum is the first UK arts organisation to publish its collection semantically
LONDON.- The British Museum has now released a Semantic Web version of the database complementing the Collection Online search facility. The Museum is the first UK arts organisation to instigate a Semantic Web version of its collection data. The new service brings the British Museum into the ‘linked data’ world and will allow software developers to produce their own applications that can directly manipulate and reuse the data. It will also allow researchers and scholars a way to search and find data more precisely and facilitate automatic updates.

This Semantic version has been enhanced by applying the CIDOC-CRM (Conceptual Reference Model) ontology. By converting data to this ISO accredited semantic framework the potential to harmonise and build data relationships with other organisations is greatly enhanced. In addition, the service comes with a more open data licence encouraging wider reuse.

Dominic Oldman, IS Development Manager, British Museum said, “The publication of Collection Online in 2007 represented a major milestone for the Museum and dramatically improved accessibility to the collection through the Web. The initiative was widely praised and since 2008/9, the volume of traffic to the Collection Online has grown by 82%, with 17.8 million page views in 2010/11. This new Semantic version will provide a new degree of accessibility, and allow others the ability to work closely with the data, obtain new insights and produce innovative applications.”

Conversion of the Museum’s data to the Semantic Web format was made possible through preliminary work on the ResearchSpace project, which also seeks to utilise semantic data. ResearchSpace is an initiative generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The service is initially released as a beta while development work continues. It supports the formats JSON, RDF, TTL and N3 and returns SPARQL queries in JSON and RDF/XML.

The service URL is

British Museum | collection semantically |

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