Helping Humanities Scholars to Search the Rijksmuseum Prints Online Collection

Humanities researchers depend in their research on the efficiency and effectiveness of the search functionality provided in various cultural heritage collections online (e.g. images, videos and textual material). Currently many of the cultural heritage institutions do not provide the necessary interactivity and transparency intuitive for humanities scholars. The Rijksmuseum collection is an important research source for many humanities researchers worldwide. One of the important subcollections is the Prints Cabinet Online (containing more than 600,000 number of prints in various genres). With the current search implementation humanities scholars can primarily search and collect information about individual objects. Exploratory research indicates that humanities scholars (i.e. art historians, cultural historians, book historians, historians of science, of religion of literature, etc.) create complex, but unarticulated ways to search online cultural heritage collections, and their needs for analysis and deeper reflection over clusters of artefacts and concepts is still insufficiently supported. The main goal of this project is to study the user needs of humanities scholars and implement them in a demonstrator, which will serve as a basis for an evaluation pilot to collect user feedback on a novel semantic search approach.

Our approach proposes clustering of search results based on semantic patterns in linked cultural heritage data. Through the feedback from the user studies, proposed in this project, we will be able to rank the semantic patterns by their importance for each specific arthistorical genre. We believe that, in this way, we will ultimately help in providing the necessary functionality for the formulation, refining and answering of humanities research questions. Thus, the main hypothesis of this research is that we can define genrespecific relevance values for linked data patterns that would support not only better semantic search, but also the analysis process of humanities scholars.



  •  Thijs van den Beek
    MSc Information Science
  • Wesley ter Weele
    MA History