Art Tracks Digital Provenance Project
Art Tracks is an initiative of the Carnegie Museum of Art that aims to turn provenance (external link) into structured data by building a suite of open source software tools. These tools transform traditional written provenance records into searchable data, with an emphasis on existing data standards and a strong focus on building tools that are useful, and usable, across multiple institutions.
Once provenance information is converted into structured data, we can ask complex questions like “Which works in our collection were in the same city in the same year?” or “Which artworks in our collection were owned by an artist whose work is also in our collection?” By doing more with the data we already have, we can discover gaps in knowledge, shape collections policy, and better understand the ecosystem of the collection and the institution.
For an overview of the project, please check out the videos from the 2016 Digital Provenance Symposium or join us for the 2017 Digital Provenance Symposium on November 6, 2017 for a vigorous discussion of the role of museums in understanding, researching, disseminating, and digitally publishing museum collections.
The CMOA Provenance Standard is a strict superset of the AAM provenance standard, designed to resolve ambiguities and provide guidance and machine-readability. A draft version (v. 0.2) has been published. Examples of records written using the CMOA style are available.
Software & Demonstration
The Museum Provenance library is the core technology developed for this project. It takes provenance records and converts them into structured, well-formatted data.
The Elysa tool is a user interface designed for museum professionals. It assists with verifying, cleaning, and modifying provenance records.
An initial provenance interactive prototype was created in spring 2015 to research ways to present detailed provenance information to the public. Much of the work and evaluation done will inform new projects, including the Northbrook data visualization in the Scaife galleries, on view October 6, 2017.
Initial funding for Art Tracks was provided in part by a generous grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (external link). Funding for Phase 2 has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (external link) with additional research support provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation (external link) and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (external link).