Linked Data Integration for Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums

Ontotext has delivered semantic solutions for cultural heritage organizations such as the British Museum, the Yale Center for British Art, Europeana, the Canadian Heritage Information Network, and the American Art Collaborative. Ontotext's semantic solutions enable collaborative research through efficient integration of siloed data, flexible knowledge representation, creative re-use of metadata, artifact aggregation, and powerful knowledge discovery of scientific information.

The Goal

Today’s cultural heritage institutions aim to figure out new ways of integrating external linked datasets into their collections and how to improve the overall experience for their users.

As more and more galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM) are reinventing their role as content creators and providers and are beginning to explore the added value of sharing data, they need efficient solutions that can facilitate web-based research, knowledge sharing, and web publishing.

The Challenge

The main challenge for knowledge management In the domain of cultural heritage is that the data is very heterogeneous, multilingual, semantically rich, and highly interlinked. It is produced by GLAM institutions and individuals alike and, as a consequence, lacks sufficient data quality control. On top of that, different cultural institutions use different modeling schemas and styles.

With the rethinking of traditional methods and the adoption of Linked Data approaches comes the increased importance of maintaining authority control in order to collocate and disambiguate access points in bibliographic records.

The Solution

A variety of semantic technologies are at the core of the solutions below.

The British Museum

ResearchSpace was a project awarded by the British Museum and funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation to support collaborative research projects for cultural heritage scholars.

The project developed a hosted platform for web-based research, knowledge sharing, and web publishing, which included data and digital analysis tools, collaboration, semantic RDF data sources, data management, and workflow tools.

Based on the CIDOC CRM ontology for the cultural heritage domain, the platform was powered by Ontotext’s leading semantic graph database GraphDB, which features powerful reasoning, fast performance, efficient multi-user access, and incremental assert and retraction of data.

Yale Center for British Art

The Yale Center for British Art wanted to publish their collections as Linked Open Data and to integrate innovative search applications.

Here, Ontotext’s GraphDB and the CIDOC CRM cultural heritage ontology were again at the core of the solution. GraphDB was chosen for its capacity to load and query RDF statements simultaneously at scale as well as for its reasoning and rule-inferencing capabilities for complex searches of artifacts. The supported search scenarios included finding all works by a certain author regardless of the collection in which they resided and joining data about a certain work or an author across several repositories.


Europeana is a web portal created by the European Union that works with thousands of European archives, libraries, and museums and wants to create digitalized museum collections in order to share cultural heritage for enjoyment, education, and research. Using GraphDB Ontotext had loaded over 20 million cultural heritage objects in the semantic repository of Europeana and hosted the SPARQL endpoint. OWL-Horst inference was used comprising 993 million explicit statements and 4 billion retrievable statements.

A different division, Europeana Creative needed to facilitate the creative reuse of cultural heritage metadata and content in the areas of History Education, Natural History Education, Tourism, Social Networks, and Design. Ontotext developed the core backend component of the architecture and geo-tagged the cultural heritage objects.

Canadian Heritage Information Network

The Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) is part of Patrimoine Canada Heritage (PCH), the Canadian Ministry of Culture, and is the national aggregator for cultural heritage, gathering information from over 500 museums and galleries. CHIN’s needed to redevelop their aggregator based on the Linked Open Data approach in order to enhance the access of both researchers and the public to Canadian culture and heritage collections.

Ontotext provided semantic technology consulting, including an environment scan of relevant projects, ontologies, datasets, and tools as well as a review of CHIN’s LOD pilot, and a 4-year strategy. The aim was not only to provide users with comprehensive information about a certain artifact but also to serve links to other data that might not have been apparent to the user.

Ontotext has also participated in analyzing the current Artefacts Canada collection for data quality problems, matchability of key fields against established thesauri, and statistics on coverage of key fields per collection.

American Art Collaborative

The American Art Collaborative (AAC) comprises 14 US museums and galleries that publish their data as Linked Open Data using the CIDOC CRM ontologies, with the help of funding from the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Through the huge potential offered by LOD, the AAC is committed to expanding access to cultural heritage, deepening research networks for scholars and curators, and creating public interfaces for students, teachers, and museum visitors.

Ontotext provided consulting services for semantic data modeling and mapping and participated in several workshops.

Business Benefits

  • Greater discoverability and collaboration by combining knowledge and facts from different collections
  • Facilitate research by using ontologies and other data models for flexible knowledge representation 
  • Improved time efficiency and increased productivity by reusing data
  • Increased creativity in utilizing data in different applications

Why Choose Ontotext?

Ontotext helps GLAM institutions fulfill their basic mission of preserving and providing access to cultural heritage collections by empowering them with future-proof solutions. Thanks to these solutions, cultural heritage institutions can cut time and resources, increase their efficiency and productivity, and foster collaboration.

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