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Most of our early use scenarios are not yet ready to share, but here we give a flavour of two use cases that are already well in hand. As more are confirmed, we’ll update this area of the website and spread the word though our newsletter and social media channels.

Scaling up Art UK’s operation and offer

The first major user of data from MDS will be Art UK, which already brings more than 300,000 artworks, from 3,400 collections, to an online audience of over 5m people a year. However, the existing workflows to achieve that are time-consuming, and Art UK has long recognised a strategic need to speed up its operation in order to scale up its online offer.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies grant supporting the MDS start-up is also building a suite of data processing tools for Art UK. The new tools will allow Art UK to transform and enhance records from the MDS repository and bring them over to the Art UK website much more quickly and efficiently. The diverse source data will be mapped to Art UK’s data schema, and variant forms of artist names seamlessly standardised from authority files.  Combined with new image ingestion and processing workflows, MDS will transform Art UK’s operations, doubling the number of artworks featured to 600,000 by summer 2024 and continuing to ramp up significantly over the years ahead.

Though initially built for Art UK, these tools could be adapted and applied to other types of collection, and we are looking at other potential use scenarios.

Helping small museums work with their communities

In its support role funded by Arts Council England, Collections Trust is working with some small museums on action research projects that have one thing in common. They all involve a need to share object records beyond the collection database with local people who will be creating new content based on the source records. Furthermore, the museums find it hard to manage knowledge generated outside the core database and want to futureproof their project outputs as linked data with MDS.

  • Wolverhampton Museum, whose Living with Difference project is funded by the Esmée Fairburn Collections Fund, is running workshops with community groups to gather a range of perspectives on the Black art and various colonial-era items in its collections. 
  • St Barbe Museum wants to collaborate with the local history societies in its part of Hampshire, tapping the expertise found there to enhance existing object records with new information.
  • The Royal Engineers Museum wants to work with the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers and the Army Multicultural Network to re-interpret its collection and gather personal responses to objects already on display.

CT’s Collections Use Officer, Katie Brown, is working with these and two other museums to test how MDS can support the data-sharing and digital preservation needs of such projects. She will blog updates as the work progresses.

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