INVENiT: Researching Early Modern Creative Industries

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 for humanities scholars. The Rijksmuseum collection is an important research source for many humanities researchers worldwide. One of the important sub-collections is the Prints Cabinet Online. In the current search implementation humanities scholars can primarily search and collect information about individual objects or artists, however their needs for analysis and deeper reflection over clusters of artefacts and concepts, and over different collections, is still insufficiently supported.

In INVENiT1, we aimed to meet these needs by connecting the image database and metadata of the Rijksmuseum with bibliographical data of STCN – Short Title Catalogue of the Netherlands (1550-1800).1 We developed a demonstrator that provides a novel query environment for scholars interested in book illustrations, and the early modern creative industries. Up to now the engravings of the Rijksmuseum were singular objects, and now with the INVENiT Demonstrator, they can be researched in their (book) historical context.

In INVENiT2 we aim to focus on testing this novel semantic search approach. Our approach proposes clustering of search results based on semantic patterns in linked cultural heritage data. Through the feedback from user studies, we will be able to rank the semantic patterns by their importance for each specific art-historical 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 genre-specific relevance values for linked data patterns that would support not only better semantic search, but also the analysis process of humanities scholars.

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