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Will it cost anything to use MDS data?

Subject to the licensing terms set by the source museums, most users will be able access and use MDS data for free. There will not be any kind of paywall on our part. However, we are developing a fair use policy and may well need to pass on any additional hosting costs arising from particularly intensive, high-traffic scenarios, such as very large research projects using our data on an industrial scale.

Is there a public interface where anyone can access MDS data without logging into an account?

Not yet, but we will launch one in September 2024, by which time we will have collection-level summaries for all 1,700 Accredited museums, and millions of detailed object records from around a hundred collections.

Who can have an MDS account?

During the start-up phase only people from the museums sharing data, and specific individuals and organisations who are helping us test and refine our beta release, will have accounts and be able to access MDS data.

Is there an API?

Better than that, users will be able to define their own API content with a user-friendly wizard that will turn search results into a bespoke API without any faffing around with code. This could be useful for individual museums wanting to put their own object records on their website, or be scaled up to subject-specific APIs like the one Art UK will use.

How up to date will the data be?

It will be up to each museum how often it refreshes data it shares with us. Where we’re taking data from a large museum via an API, it might be daily. For a small museum with a relatively static database, it might be once or twice a year. Users will be able to see from a dashboard when data was last refreshed.

If you have other questions please email them to support(at), replacing (at) with @.

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