Visualizing The Rijksmuseum

April 12, 2018 - All

Museum APIs are an excellent resource for exploring information in collection records that public facing collection search interfaces (e.g., those found on most museum websites) do not provide access to. This project utilizes the Rijksmuseum API and the Getty Research Institute’s Union List of Artist Names Vocabulary (ULAN) to take a closer look at the museum’s collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, which took place during the seventeenth century. The Rijksmuseum is located in Amsterdam and was founded on November 19, 1798. The museum has a long and storied history, and its expansive collection has grown strong in numerous areas, including its holdings of Dutch Golden Age paintings. I began my exploration of the records for these paintings by querying the “Collection” element of the museum’s API, which provides a broad view of the collection, but does not return detailed artwork information. I queried the Collection element with the goal of obtaining ID numbers for the paintings I was interested in studying. I used these ID numbers later to query the “Collection Details” element of the API. As the name suggests, this element provides more detailed information about artworks in the collection, but has fewer access points; if you want information from this element, it is best to have an ID number. By limiting my query of the Collection element to “paintings” and “seventeenth century,” I was able to compile a list of ID numbers and artist names that pertained to artworks of the appropriate medium and time period. However, I still needed to do more work to ensure that the paintings listed reflected only those produced by Dutch artists. In order to do this, I checked the ID number/artist name list against the Getty’s ULAN Vocabulary. This resource provides detailed and internationally accepted standards for artist information.

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